2024 How Long Does a Divorce In California Take?

2024 How Long Does a Divorce In California Take?

February 14, 2024

The length of time that a divorce in California takes can vary from six months to over a year. Every case is different. Assets have to be divided, and alimony has to be decided. If you are going through a divorce and dealing with a great deal of stress, it is normal to feel overwhelmed. You may feel like everything is falling apart, and nothing is in your control. These feelings are normal. Reaching out to a California divorce lawyer can help, especially if you would like to know how long a divorce takes to finalize.

The Waiting Period

Every divorce in California must undergo a mandatory waiting period of at least six months. No court in the state will issue a divorce decree until those six months are finished. Even if you and your spouse have been legally separated for quite some time, the waiting period begins once the divorce petition has been filed.

In addition, every divorce in California must meet a residency requirement that is non-negotiable. Under California state law, a married couple cannot file for divorce until at least one of the spouses has lived in California for at least six months. One of the spouses must also have lived in the filing county for at least three months.

Types of Divorce

There are two types of divorce in California:

  • Uncontested Divorce: In an uncontested divorce, there is no dispute between the spouses. Both spouses have reached an amicable agreement regarding splitting assets, child custody, and all other factors. Nobody wishes to fight for anything that they will not already receive as a result of the agreement. It is the quickest and least stressful way that a divorce can unfold. To fulfill an uncontested divorce, the spouses must accomplish three tasks:
    • Both spouses must agree wholeheartedly on all decided terms.
    • Both spouses must agree to no-fault divorce grounds.
    • Both spouses must prepare and file a settlement agreement.
  • Contested Divorce: In a contested divorce, there is an obvious and palpable dispute between the spouses. An amicable agreement cannot and will not be reached. Both spouses are fighting for assets, child custody, alimony, and more. Each spouse has likely hired a divorce attorney to represent their interests and fight on their behalf. Things are likely to get messy, complicated, and painful in a contested divorce, especially if there are children involved.

Contested divorces are expensive and lengthy and often result in a permanently damaged relationship between the two spouses. In some situations, contested divorces are the result of:

  • A marriage with a history of domestic violence and abuse.
  • A marriage with at least one stubborn spouse who insists on dragging out the divorce for as long as possible out of spite.
  • A marriage where one spouse is actively hiding or trying to hide their finances from the other spouse.

Fault vs. No-Fault Divorce

California is a no-fault state when it comes to divorce, meaning that no blame can be assigned to either spouse for the breaking apart of their marriage. Both spouses admit that the marriage cannot be saved for whatever reason. California law does not provide an avenue to proclaim a fault divorce, even if one spouse wants it known that the other spouse’s infidelity or disrespect caused the marriage to crumble.

Under state law, it does not matter who did what to contribute to the divorce. During the divorce proceedings, reasons for the end of the marriage may be revealed and influence alimony payments or custody decisions. The end result is still a no-fault divorce.


Q: How Long Does It Take to Get a Divorce in California if Both Parties Agree?

A: If both parties agree, it can take a minimum of six months to get a divorce in California. Regardless of whether or not both parties agree to a no-fault, uncontested divorce, there is still a six-month mandatory waiting period for every divorce in the state. Other factors are taken into account once the waiting period is up, including the division of assets, child custody agreements, and other issues relevant to the case at hand. Ultimately, every divorce is different.

Q: How Can I Get a Divorce Faster in California?

A: You can get a divorce faster in California by agreeing to an uncontested divorce. However, there are very few ways to avoid the six-month waiting period. One such avenue is called a “summary dissolution.”

To qualify for a summary dissolution, you must be seeking an uncontested divorce, you have to have been married for under five years, you must have no children, and both parties must agree not to seek spousal support. Otherwise, you must go through the normal channels if you do not qualify.

Q: Why Does Divorce Take So Long in California?

A: The main reason that divorce takes so long in California is that the law wants both spouses to be absolutely sure that the marriage is truly over. There is hope that by enforcing a mandatory waiting period of six months, some couples will use that time to analyze their marriage, understand what went wrong, and attempt to reconcile. The court wants you to have exhausted all possible options before pursuing a divorce. Some couples do figure things out, while others do not.

Q: How Long Does It Take to Get Divorced in California On Average?

A: The average amount of time it takes to get a no-fault divorce in California is about 15 months. This includes the mandatory six-month waiting period. Then, it takes time to go through divorce court. Every case is different. Some divorces are more turbulent than others, especially if there are significant assets to be divided or if a child custody agreement is challenged. Both spouses’ respective attorneys will try their hardest to resolve your divorce quickly, but that is never a guarantee.

Contact a Divorce Lawyer Today

If you are pursuing a divorce in California, you will need an experienced divorce attorney on your side to help you weigh your options and walk you through the process. At Edgar & Dow, we are determined to provide you with solid legal counsel throughout your divorce. We understand what you are going through and are prepared to help in any way we are able. Contact us to schedule a consultation as soon as possible.


The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.

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