What is California’s six month waiting period for a divorce and when does the clock start? California put this law in place to ensure that married couples had a “cooling off period,” an opportunity to give full consideration to the decision to divorce, and to allow time for a reconciliation. Six months is the earliest that a court can approve and record a divorce, and restore your status as a “single person.” Neither party is allowed to remarry, or to file taxes separately until the six months waiting period has passed.
It is important to know about California’s six month waiting period before a divorce can be finalized, legally speaking. In a California divorce, the “Petitioner” is the party which files the paperwork to begin the divorce process. The law requires a six month period from the date of service upon the “Respondent,” which is the person who has been served notice that the Petitioner has filed for a divorce.
The important date to remember in this context is not the date the divorce petition was filed, but the date of service upon the “Respondent.” You may be able to complete your paperwork, and receive approval from a Judge or Magistrate. However, your divorce will not be filed and completed until six months cooling off period has passed from the date of service.
California’s six month waiting period for a divorce imposes no limitation on the amount of time a divorce can take. Complex divorces, such as those involving significant assets or business ownership may take a year or longer to complete. If there are child custody issues, it will be necessary to attend a Custody Mediation before your first hearing in the Court. This is often the first hurdle when time frame is a concern.
There is often a backlog in the North County San Diego Court relating to the review of divorce cases for approval. There is no rule or law which prevents the couple from submitting divorce paperwork at any time in the six month waiting period. This is actually a sound goal, as it will take the Court a period of time to review your final paperwork and grant approval.
The approved divorce may not be filed, and your status as a single person cannot be restored until California’s six month waiting period for a divorce has passed, regardless of when a Judge or Magistrate actually approves the divorce paperwork.