Getting divorced is stressful, even if you have accepted the reality that your marriage is ending. A long, drawn-out divorce is expensive and time-consuming. It can keep you from moving on with your life as you try to close that chapter. On the other hand, you should not feel as though you need to rush through your divorce. Even when you have an attorney helping you to protect your interests, you need to take the time to evaluate your goals as you go through the dissolution process.
California Law Requires a 6-Month Waiting Period
Even if you and your spouse/partner agree regarding how to divide your property and share time with your children, you will have to wait 6 months if you live in California. This mandatory waiting period is considered a cooling-off period, and you cannot shorten the time even if you both agree.
The 6-month waiting period does not start until the initial petition is filed with the Court. You can enter into an agreement with your spouse resolving all the issues, and the Court can approve your agreement, but you will still need to wait out the six months for your marriage to end.
Mediated Divorce is the generally quickest and most cost-effective process. Typically, mediation works well for couples who are able speak for themselves, listen to their spouse or partner, and do not feel they need an attorney by their side during the negotiations. A mediated divorce agreement often takes somewhere between 3 to 12 months to complete. The Collaborative Divorce process is the next shortest in time period to resolve the issues in your case. It will generally take somewhere between 10 to 14 months, depending on your ability to reach an agreement. A Litigated Divorce can take years and the court system is more impacted now than ever because of COVID and the backlog of cases from 2020 that have not been heard yet.
Take Advantage of the Time to Work out Your Issues
You and your spouse/partner will both experience strong emotions as you try to resolve all of the issues. The end of a marriage or partnership is painful, even if you are remaining friends. You may experience feelings of loss, fear, anxiety, and somtimes relief, and you should allow yourself to feel all these emotions and go through the grieving process. Making important decisions while you are experiencing strong emotions can lead to making a decision you later regret.
Knowing that you have that time can help you stay centered as you go through this difficult period. You may be dealing with issues of child support, custody, alimony, or other issues relating to asset and debt division. When you trust your mediator or attorney and take your time to examine the issues, you are more likely to end up with a better result.
Every Divorce Is Different
It is impossible to know exactly how long a divorce will take. You may discover that you need certain additional financial documents or you may need to engage additional professionals to help reach a final agreement. Gathering the information you need swiftly can help the process move more swiftly. Half a year may seem like a long time, and you may resolve everything in that time, however, don’t be frustrated if the process ends up taking longer.
If you have concerns about a family law matter, please contact Lisa R. Murray at Chase, Berenstein and Murray.