Why Is There a Mandatory Waiting Period to Get a Divorce in California?

Can I Recover Attorney Fees in My California Divorce?Many states have waiting periods for a divorce to become final after the process begins. In California, it is six months after the petitioner serves notice on the respondent. The petitioner is the person initiating the divorce, and the respondent is the spouse or domestic partner.

The primary purpose of the waiting period is to give the parties time to consider their course of action and to reconcile if that is possible. Secondarily, the time also allows for the parties to prepare for a hearing or settlement negotiation. There is substantial documentation necessary to effect a divorce, and it can take a lot of time for it to be assembled. Even after that is done, mediation or settlement discussions are common and can take a long time.

Other issues can also make the waiting period seem inconsequential. For example, when children are involved, other time-consuming activities can be required, especially if issues are being contested. At a minimum, the court will require custody mediation, which forces the parties to meet and consider child custody arrangements. If the issue is being contested by either or both parties, then motions asking the court to make decisions will also take time to resolve.

California has one of the shorter waiting periods. Some states have one-year periods, and others are contemplating even longer periods. The main argument against waiting periods at all, and especially long ones, is the possibility of domestic violence during that time.

Many divorcing couples do not have the means to maintain separate households during the pendency of a divorce. In addition, the very nature of divorce is that some level of acrimony exists between the parties. Consequently, many divorcing couples are living in an increasingly uncomfortable situation under the same roof awaiting the dissolution of their marriage. With children in the mix, it can only be worse. Therefore, the waiting period can be a serious problem in certain situations rather than acting as the savior of a marriage.

The attorneys at The Law Offices of Judy L. Burger have extensive experience in family law, including the dissolution of  marriages and domestic partnerships. Make the call today to learn how our attorneys can help you proceed through the divorce process while protecting your rights or those of loved ones: (415) 298-8314.