Understanding California’s Six-Month Divorce Waiting Period

By the time you file for divorce, your actual relationship is usually long over. That’s why most divorcing couples want to end their marriages as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, in California, you’ll need to wait at least six months before your split can be finalized.

California’s six-month waiting period has been around for decades. Here’s why the waiting period exists, how it affects your divorce, and what you can do in the meantime.

Why Do You Need to Wait Before Finalizing Your Divorce?

If your romantic relationship is over, why do you need to wait half a year to end your legal relationship? There are several reasons why states like California require so-called “cooling off” periods before finalizing divorces, such as:

  • Opportunities to reconcile: Most waiting periods originated when marriage was intended to be lifelong for all couples. The time was intended to encourage spouses to reconcile before finalizing their splits.
  • Time to investigate and prepare finances and custody: Today, waiting periods remove the pressure to rush legal matters to finalize things sooner. They give both parties the time to pursue a fair divorce settlement and custody agreement before finishing anything. 
  • Chances to negotiate: Additionally, the waiting period ensures that both parties have the space to negotiate settlements and custody rather than trying to rush matters.

Regardless of whether these issues are relevant to you, you’ll still need to wait six months before your marriage can end. 

What California’s Waiting Period Means for You

While waiting for your divorce may be frustrating, there’s plenty you can do in the meantime. While you’re waiting, you can:

  • Attempt mediation or collaborative law negotiations: Without time pressure, pursuing alternative dispute resolution methods to negotiate asset division and spousal support is much easier. 
  • Draft your settlement: If you and your spouse are on the same page, you can work with your attorneys to draft your settlement in advance. You can submit it for incorporation into your divorce decree as soon as the six-month period expires. 
  • Schedule hearings: If negotiation isn’t on the table, you can use the time to schedule and prepare for hearings in family court. During these hearings, the judge will issue the rulings that will be collected in your final decree.
  • Prepare for post-divorce life: You don’t need to keep living with your spouse just because your marriage isn’t officially over. During the waiting period, you can find new housing, draft a new budget, and otherwise prepare for and begin your new, single life.

Make the Most of California’s Divorce Cooling-Off Period

Don’t let California’s six-month wait to finalize divorces waste your time. You can work with the expert attorneys at the Viola Law Firm P.C. to make the most of this period. Our skilled lawyers will help you prepare for your divorce so you can finalize matters efficiently once the wait is over. Learn more about how we can help you by scheduling your consultation today.

Share On


Navigating The Breakup:

A Complete Guide To Divorce For Silicon Valley Founders & Executives

Have more questions about divorce? Check out our Divorce Q&A.