FAQ: How Long Does a Divorce Take in Orange County?
Divorces in California can vary in length. Various parts of your divorce have varying time limits either before the parties qualify to file, or before the divorce can be approved or finalized. To an extent, the length of time it takes to obtain a divorce can be up to the couple, how they choose to handle the divorce, and whether or not they determine the terms of the divorce on their own or through the court.
The most general timeline for a divorce is a six month wait from the date the spouse or domestic partner is served with divorce papers until the divorce could potentially be finalized. The purpose of this six month wait is to give both spouses a chance to think about whether they really want a divorce. However, six months is only the minimum amount of time to wait for a divorce; in many cases, a divorce can take much longer.
Waiting Periods to Qualify for Divorce in California
In order to qualify for a divorce in California, you have to meet the California residency requirements. Usually, if you live in California, this does not require a waiting period. In order to qualify for a divorce in California, you must have lived in California for at least the last six months, and in the county where you want to file for at least the last three months.
This means that in order to get a divorce in Orange County, you or your spouse must have lived in Orange County for at least the last three months, and in California for at least the last six months.
There is an exception to this rule for same sex couples who were married in California, but currently reside in a state that does not allow for the dissolution of a same sex marriage. Regardless of your current or past residency, if you were married in California, you can file to end your marriage in California, as long as you file for a divorce in the county in which you were married.
Another exception to the residency requirement is for registered domestic partners who are registered in California. Whether you currently live in California or you have never lived in California, you may file for a divorce without meeting residency requirements. However, if your domestic partnership was not registered in California, in order to divorce in California, you or your partner must have lived in California for at least the last six months, and in the county where the divorce is filed for at least the last three months.
What Else can Affect the Timeline of My Orange County Divorce?
The six month waiting period for California divorces cannot be changed, and most couples use that time to determine the terms of their divorce. This includes things like dividing property and debts, creating a spousal or partner support plan, and determining child custody, visitation, and child support. If these can be agreed upon during the six month waiting period the judge can sign a divorce agreement once the six months are over.
Several other factors can determine the amount of time your divorce takes, but usually these are all related to whether the divorce is contested or uncontested, and the way you choose to set the terms of your divorce.
In some cases, for example, if your divorce is uncontested, or if you and your spouse can agree on terms of the divorce on your own, through divorce mediation, through a collaborative divorce, or if you qualify for a summary dissolution, determining the terms of your divorce may not take long. However, highly contested divorces, or those divorces that must go through litigation, may take a long time depending on attorneys, the availability of the Court, any children that may be involved, the amount of assets or debts, whether either party is attempting to hide assets, and more.
Are There any Shortcuts for a Faster Divorce in California?
In California, divorces take at least six months to complete, and many of them take much longer. If you do not qualify for a summary dissolution, you and your spouse cannot agree on the terms of your divorce, or the court process has not been completed at the end of six months, you may be eligible to file a Motion for Bifurcation.
When a divorce is bifurcated, the couple can become legally divorced, which leaves both parties legally single, before the terms of the divorce are set.
Sometimes a judge may order a bifurcation if there is one particular issue within the divorce that is causing problems.
Usually, a divorce is bifurcated if either spouse is remarrying, or if either spouse wants to be able to file as a single person on his or her taxes. Filing as a single person can be beneficial if one person is paying child or spousal support because it should be 100% deductible from taxes.
In order for a bifurcation to be valid, one or both spouses need to meet certain criteria because the terms of the divorce have not yet been determined.
• If one spouse still has medical insurance, that spouse must continue to maintain it. If maintaining the insurance is not possible, the spouse that requested the bifurcation is required to pay to a medical insurance policy as similar to the previous one as possible;
• If one spouse has a pension plan, the other spouse must receive payment for losing the death benefits;
• The party that did not request the bifurcation is eligible for reimbursement for tax consequences he or she may incur.
Usually, in order to get any tax benefit from a bifurcated divorce, the Motion for Bifurcation must be filed by November 15.
OC California Divorce Attorneys