2024 How Long Does a Divorce in California Take?

  • David Goldberg,
  •   Divorce

No one looks forward to divorce proceedings, but the decisions you make during that time will have long-lasting effects on your personal life. One question that our clients frequently ask is, “How long does a divorce in California take?” People rightfully have a desire to be able to plan for the future, but there are no guarantees in family court. By state law, any divorce cannot be finalized until six months pass from the date of the original filing.

As you navigate this uncertain and often stressful process, The Goldberg Legal Group can be there to help you. Our lawyers provide compassionate and experienced legal counsel for people going through a divorce.


How Long Does A Divorce In California Take?

Factors That Affect How Long Your Divorce May Take

Once a divorce case is filed, the clock starts. The earliest any divorce can be finalized is six months from the day of the filing. This is your ideal scenario, but there are many factors that can prolong the length of your divorce. Contested divorces where both parties do not agree on the terms of a divorce can easily last a year or longer.

Having an Attorney

Having an experienced attorney is easily the biggest factor that can determine how long your divorce takes to finalize. Some people start divorce proceedings thinking that they do not need an attorney. This can be a mistake. Missed filing deadlines and procedural errors can lead to wasted time and setbacks in court.

Family law attorneys do much more than draft and file motions. Lawyers have experience working with opposing counsel to favorably resolve issues. They also understand how to litigate in court if necessary. Their services can greatly reduce the timeline of your divorce.

Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce

If your case is contested, meaning that you and your spouse do not agree on the terms of a divorce, then any disagreement will have to be resolved through mediation or in court. An uncontested divorce means that both parties are in agreement on how to divide the estate and other issues. Even when there are significant disagreements between the two parties, an experienced family law attorney can work to resolve those differences.


Mediation allows a couple to divorce without going to court. The mediation could be the first step taken, or a judge may recommend mediation as part of a court process. Mediation often shortens the length of time a divorce takes. When both parties sign the terms of a mediation, it becomes binding.

Going to Trial

If both parties cannot agree on important issues, the case will ultimately go to trial. This can greatly extend the timeline of your divorce. Courts are often booked, and a trial requires that a courtroom is cleared for multiple days. If you are looking to resolve your case without delay, avoiding a trial should be your priority. In some cases where the other party is not making reasonable requests, a trial may be inevitable.

Child Custody Agreements

One of the most contentious issues that can arise during a divorce proceeding is child custody. Parents understandably become very emotional and protective about their visitation rights. For the vast majority of cases where both parents are deemed fit, each will lose some time with their children as part of the shared parenting plan. Your attorney can explain the possible outcomes in detail.

Division of Assets

California is a community property state. The courts see assets and property accrued during the marriage as belonging to both spouses. Although the division of assets is theoretically straightforward, both parties still have to agree on the specifics of who gets what. Disagreements on how assets should be divided can lead to delays in finalizing your divorce.


Q: How Long Does It Take to Get a Divorce in California If Both Parties Agree?

A: If both parties agree to the terms of a divorce, then the marriage could theoretically be dissolved in six months. California requires a six-month waiting period. If you and your spouse agree on the terms of a divorce, then you can have the legal paperwork drafted and completed by the time six months elapse. This would be the fastest scenario.

Q: What Is the Average Time for a Divorce in California?

A: Every divorce is different, and there is no easy way to predict how long your divorce will take to finalize. The minimum time anyone has to wait to get divorced in California is six months. The maximum time allowed by the courts to get a divorce is five years because the divorce petition expires in five years in California.

Q: Why Does Divorce Take So Long in California?

A: Every state handles divorces differently. California requires all couples to wait six months before their divorce can be finalized. The idea behind any waiting period is to give both parties enough time to fully consider the decisions they make. In the eyes of the state, a divorce is a serious matter. One way you can reduce the time it takes to finalize your divorce is to work with an experienced lawyer who understands the divorce process.

Q: What Is the Fastest Way to Get a Divorce in California?

A: The fastest way to get a divorce is to hire an attorney who understands California’s family court system. An experienced attorney can work to resolve your case with favorable outcomes. They can negotiate with opposing counsel and work to resolve disagreements between the parties. By focusing on the areas of disagreement, your divorce attorney can ultimately save you time and money.

Schedule Your Divorce Consultation Today

During a divorce, there are many factors that will seem out of your control. One factor that you can control is who you hire to represent you. With the right attorney, you can cut through situations that could potentially delay your case’s settlement. At The Goldberg Legal Group, our lawyers understand that you are ready to start the next chapter of your life. We can work to finalize your divorce in a timely manner. To schedule your consultation, please contact our office today.