Divorce Timeline




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How Long Does a Divorce Take?

One of the first questions often to be asked is:  How long will it take?  The true answer is, of course – it depends –  on many things.  At the outset, California has a six month waiting period for a divorce to become finalized.  Therefore, the minimum time to conclude a divorce in California is six months and one day.  Simple cases can be finished in six months, however, most will take longer, and complicated cases can take several years to complete.


The relevance of the six month waiting period is that it is the earliest point at which a party is eligible to ask a judge to terminate the “married” status  and restore the parties to the status of single persons.  It is important to understand that the marriage does not automatically end six months after the case is filed. One of the parties must make the request to the court after the six months has passed.  The time required for the court to act on the request varies. The practical relevance of this is: You cannot remarry or file taxes separately until the court has restored your status as a single person.


Bifurcation. The easiest issue to determine in a divorce is whether the parties should remain married, or whether they should be restored to single persons. Because California has “no fault” divorce, instead the grounds are “irreconcilable differences.” In sum, this means that only one of the two no longer wants to be married; and the other cannot contest.


The matters that will often require time to resolve are those related to property division, child custody, and support.  It is not necessary that all of these issues be resolved in order to restore the parties to single persons.  Once the six-month period is over, either spouse is then eligible to request that the marital status be terminated and a judgment entered on that issue only.


This is called “bifurcation,” because the issue of martial status is bifurcated from the remaining issues.  The parties can become unmarried and single, long before the divorce is over, and the remaining issues will proceed at the pace they require. It may or may not shorten the time required overall to finalize all the issues, but, while the other issues are progressing, the parties can go on with their personal lives, remarry if they choose, and can separate their financial matters and file their taxes separately.  Bifurcating marital status can be complicated and affect a number of factors including medical insurance.  It is important that you consult with a family law attorney prior to bifurcating marital status.  At the Law Offices of Lisa Staight, we can discuss whether a bifurcation of marital status is in your best interest.




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The Law Office of Lisa Staight, APLC, is located in Irvine, California, and practices law in Orange County, California.  Its attorneys are licensed to practice law in the State of California.  The Law Office of Lisa Staight, APLC, does not solicit legal business from clients located in other states.  One must seek professional assistance from a licensed lawyer in one's own state/jurisdiction.


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The Law Offices of Lisa Staight, A.P.L.C., practices law in Orange County, California and is located in Irvine, California. Attorney's of the Law Offices of Lisa Staight are licensed to practice law in the State of California