Mandatory Waiting Period in Divorce
As divorce attorneys are well aware, the minimum length of a divorce in California is six months. When filing for divorce, California Family Code Section 2339(a) specifically provides that:
This so-called “waiting period” in divorce is meant to give spouses the time and opportunity to reconcile and possibly change their minds about going through with the dissolution. It also gives the parties time to retain a divorce attorney, investigate issues related to parenting of the children after divorce, and to gather important financial documents in preparation for a settlement or trial. Even if one or both spouses know that they have no intention of reconciliation and their minds are completely made up, they cannot get a divorce in California until the waiting period has lapsed. This is the case even where spouses have been separated for years but don’t actually meet with an attorney and file for divorce until a later time; they too must wait for the six-month waiting period to expire before the court can restore their “single person” status. In other words, divorcing spouses may not remarry or file taxes separately until their status has been restored to that of a single person.
Sometimes, the divorcing spouses are eager to divorce quickly and/or are able to agree to all the terms of their divorce before the six-month waiting period has lapsed. However, there is no way for a divorce attorney to bypass the six-month waiting period. Thus, the parties may prepare and finalize their divorce judgment prior to the six-month date, but they will not actually become divorced until that six-month waiting period has been met. In this case, where the judgment is prepared but the six-month waiting period has not yet expired, the parties are still bound to the terms of the judgment but they are not free to remarry until after the six-month date, at which point their “single person” status would be restored by the court.
In sum, a divorce in California cannot be finalized until at least six months and one day after the divorce petition was properly served on the Respondent. It is important to note, however, that there is no waiting period requirement for a legal separation, since the parties are not actually deemed “divorced” at the time a judgment is entered at the end of the case.
If you are interested in a divorce from your spouse we can provide you with information and guide you through your options. Our team of experienced attorneys is prepared to litigate on your behalf. If you wish you schedule a consultation with Nancy J. Bickford, please contact us at (858) 793-8884. Nancy J. Bickford is the only attorney in San Diego county who represents clients in divorce proceedings, who is also a Certified Family Law Specialist (CFLS) and Certified Public Accountant (CPA). Don't settle for less when determining your rights.
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