Divorce is never an easy process, but if both parties are in agreement, it can be much simpler than a contentious divorce. If both spouses can come to an agreement on all aspects of the divorce, it is possible to divorce in as little as six months. However, if there are any contested issues, it could take much longer to finalize the divorce. It is best to contact and consult with an experienced divorce attorney to ensure that you are taking the proper steps and to avoid any delays. To better understand the process, here is a look at how long it takes to get a divorce in California if both parties agree.
The first step in a California divorce is filing a petition for marriage dissolution. This can be done by either party and does not require the other spouse’s consent. Once the petition is filed, the other spouse must be served with divorce papers. They then have 30 days to respond to the petition.
If both parties agree on the divorce terms, they can sign a stipulation document. This stipulation outlines the terms of the divorce and is filed with the court. Once the stipulation is signed, a judge can finalize the divorce without a trial. This process usually takes about six months.
If there are contested issues, the divorce will take longer to finalize. Contested issues could include:
- Child custody: This is when the parents cannot agree on who will have primary custody of the children. Common reasons why child custody is contested include differing parenting styles, work schedules, or one parent moving out of state.
- Child support: The non-custodial parent may be required to pay child support to the custodial parent. This is usually based on the income of both parents and the needs of the child.
- Property division: This is when the couple cannot agree on how to divide their property, such as the family home or retirement accounts. Property can sometimes be the most valuable asset in a marriage, so this can be a very contentious issue that takes time to resolve.
- Alimony: One spouse may be required to pay alimony or spousal support to the other spouse. This is usually based on the length of the marriage, the incomes of both spouses, and the standard of living during the marriage.
- Child visitation: This is when the parents cannot agree on a schedule for visitation. This is often a contentious issue because it can be difficult to coordinate schedules and the needs of the children.
If there are contested issues like any of these or some other issue, they will need to be resolved through negotiation or mediation before the divorce can be finalized. If mediation becomes necessary, the parties will meet with a third party who is neutral. The parties will then attempt to agree on the contested issues. This works best when both parties are willing to compromise and is a great solution for couples who want to avoid a trial. However, some couples rely on negotiations to come to an agreement on contested issues, which can vary in length given the complexity of the issues.
Once the contested issues have been resolved, the divorce can be finalized by a judge. The judge will carefully review the stipulation and, if they find that it is fair and equitable, will sign it. Once the stipulation is signed, the divorce is final and both parties are legally single.
If the couple cannot come to an agreement on the contested issues, they will need to go to trial. This is a more lengthy and expensive process, as it requires both parties to hire attorneys and present their cases to a judge.
The trial process includes:
- Discovery: This is the process of gathering evidence, such as financial records and testimony from witnesses. The evidence is used to support each party’s case. For example, if one spouse is asking for alimony, they may need to provide financial records to show their income and expenses.
- Pre-trial motions: These are motions that the attorneys file to request information or rulings from the judge. For example, one spouse may file a motion to compel the other spouse to produce financial records.
- Pre-trial conference: This is a meeting between the attorneys and the judge to discuss the case. The judge will often make rulings on pre-trial motions at this time.
- Trial: This is the final step in the process, where both parties present their case to a judge. The judge will then finalize a decision on the contested issues.
After the trial, the judge will issue a divorce decree, which is a legal document that outlines the terms of the divorce. The divorce decree will include the division of property, child custody and visitation, child support, and alimony. Once the decree is issued, the divorce is final and both parties are legally single.
How Can a Lawyer Help?
If you are going through a divorce, it is important to have an experienced lawyer on your side. A lawyer is a highly educated, trained, and experienced professional who can help you understand the legal process, protect your rights, and represent you in court.
A lawyer can help you navigate the divorce process, from filing the initial paperwork to finalizing the divorce. They can also help you resolve any contested issues, such as property division, child custody, and alimony. If you are going to trial, a lawyer can help you prepare your case and represent you in court.
Contact McCunn Law Today
If you are divorcing your spouse, discuss your situation with McCunn Law. We are an experienced and passionate team of family law attorneys who can help you resolve your divorce quickly and efficiently. We are different from other law firms because we are dedicated to operating with integrity, compassion, and honesty. Our number one goal is to help you resolve your divorce in the best way possible, and we will not rest until you are satisfied with the outcome. Contact us today to begin the process.