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The divorce waiting period in California

On Behalf of | Oct 4, 2023 | Divorce

Even in the simplest divorce cases, where you and your spouse have already agreed how to split up your assets, share child custody and other matters, you cannot get divorced right away in California. The law has a few time requirements that you must meet first.

First, you or your spouse must live in California for at least six months and in your current county for at least three months before filing for divorce here. More importantly, you must wait at least six months from the date you file until you can finalize your divorce. Even if you and your spouse settle all necessary matters before the six months are up, you must wait until the waiting period is over before you can submit your settlement to the judge. However, negotiating a divorce commonly takes longer than six months, especially if you have many valuable assets to divide, so the waiting period might not affect you anyway.

Never try to fool the court

But even if you and your spouse are eager to make your divorce official, lying to the court is never a good idea. A couple in Canada recently had their 2005 divorce voided by a family court judge after it came to light that they lied about being separated for a year, as required in that country. The spouses signed affidavits testifying that they had lived separately for a year when they filed for divorce in 2004. In fact, they had never separated. The couple was granted a divorce based on their affidavits but continued to live together until 2017, when they finally separated for real.

In the second, real divorce, the judge treated the couple’s 15 years together after their phony divorce as part of their marriage. He ordered the husband to pay the wife more than $282,000 in property division and spousal support that he might not have had to pay if he and his wife had obeyed the waiting period.

Again, the waiting period might not affect you that much. But it’s one of the technical aspects of getting divorced in California that most people don’t know about. Keeping track of the deadlines and filings is one of the things your divorce attorney can take care of for you.