• divorce is taking too long

When Your Divorce is Taking Too Long

Is your divorce taking too long? Has the divorce process stalled with no sight of resolution? We often receive telephone calls from prospective clients who ask us, “Why is my divorce taking too long?” Often these people are represented by an attorney. They have become frustrated with the legal system and want to know what they can do to help the divorce process move along to finalize the process. If your divorce is taking too long, read on to learn more about how to speed up the divorce process and how A People’s Choice can help you.

In California, a divorce can only be finalized after six months from the date of jurisdiction. The date of jurisdiction is the date the respondent was served. Uncontested divorces can usually be completed prior to this termination date. On the other hand, a contested divorce on average can last between 1 to 2 years. The divorce timeline can vary dramatically from one case to another.

If you hire an attorney to handle the divorce, you need to be aware that the attorney has little motivation to quickly settle and complete a divorce. Attorneys typically get paid by the hour. The longer the case goes on, the higher their fees. Attorneys also have a stricter duty to protect the interests of their client. The costs associated with this approach, unfortunately, may not be justified by the results. On the other hand, A People’s Choice charges a flat fee for all of our services. Therefore, it is in our interest to work as hard as possible to get the divorce completed as quickly as possible. This is why our divorce cases are often completed in record time as compared to similar cases handled by an attorney.

What Determines How Long Divorce Takes in California?

There may be several issues that extend the amount of time it may take to complete your divorce. Such issues may include disputed child custody and support issues, when division of community property cannot be agreed to, and when alimony is involved. When children are involved and the parties cannot agree, the court may require psychiatric evaluations and court-ordered studies.  If a couple is unable to resolve some of the issues mentioned above, they will have to continue to trial and the judge will make the final decision.

Contested issues will cause more time to be added to the divorce process. If the court’s calendar is busy, there may be longer waiting times for hearings, trials and temporary orders. This means that if each spouse files motions, the divorce process will most likely be delayed.

In addition, a divorce may be delayed as a result of prolonged discovery. Discovery is only necessary if the parties cannot agree on a resolution of the issues. If you and your spouse have substantial assets and debts, the divorce process may be delayed to provide each spouse the opportunity to respond to request for the production of documents or special interrogatories regarding community property and debt.

Some divorce proceedings are very complex and may have underlying issues that need to be settled before property division can be addressed. For example, if your spouse fraudulently conveyed property, this issue would have to be resolved before a final determination of the division of community property is made.

Cooperation & Communication  is Key

Cooperation and communication are key in quickly finalizing a divorce. If a divorce is taking too long, it is often because the parties disagree about custody, child support or spousal support, or how they will divide property and debt. These disagreements will subject the couple to a prolonged divorce process. Seek mediation if you and your spouse are struggling to reach and agreement. A mediator  can serve as a neutral third-party and can help facilitate discussions to reach a quick agreement.

My Divorce is Taking Too Long – What Can I Do?

If you are asking this questions, don’t lose hope. There are actions that you can take if your divorce is taking too long. Here are some options to consider.

Fire Your Divorce Attorney

Your divorce may be taking too long and delayed as a result of your divorce attorney’s non-responsiveness. As mentioned above, there is no urgency for an attorney to quickly settle a divorce. If a divorce is taking too long because your attorney is dragging the case out, or failing to tackle matters in a timely manner, you can fire your attorney. Send your attorney a letter telling him/her that you no longer want him/her to represent you. As a client, you have the right to your entire case file. Contact us for more information about firing your attorney and how we can help you handle the remaining aspects your own divorce.  

Bifurcate Your Divorce 

If a divorce is taking too long and settlement does not seem possible in the near future, you can consider bifurcating your case. When you file a motion for bifurcation, you ask the court to give you a “status only” divorce. This process returns you to single status, allowing you to remarry. The remaining issues are set aside to be resolved at a later time. Contact A People’s  Choice for more information about bifurcating your case.

As discussed above, there may be several reasons your divorce may be taking so long. Contact A People’s Choice to find out how to speed up the process. You do not need an attorney to file for divorce. A People’s Choice can help you draft and file all the documents you need to complete your divorce.

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By |2018-01-18T15:47:00+00:00March 29th, 2016|Family Law|6 Comments

About the Author:

Sandra M. McCarthy, founder of A People’s Choice Inc., has worked exclusively in the legal field since 1976. She served as the 2004-2005 President of CALDA (California Association of Legal Document Assistants). She obtained a Paralegal Certificate from the University of California, Santa Barbara. During her career in the legal field, she has worked as a freelance paralegal, law office manager and paralegal studies teacher, and has co-authored numerous legal publications and written hundreds of self-help legal articles. As a registered Legal Document Assistant, Sandy is dedicated to providing affordable, low-cost, self-help document preparation services for California consumers in all 58 counties.

6 Comments

  1. Megan Earl August 4, 2016 at 5:58 pm - Reply

    My sister has been going through a divorce for a few weeks now and she wants to try and speed the process us. This post mentions that sometimes delays can be caused by lack of documents provided by the other spouse. I should mention that to my sister! I also think it would be beneficial for her to find a good lawyer. What do you think?

    • Sandy McCarthy August 4, 2016 at 6:46 pm - Reply

      First, two weeks is not a long time to be going through a divorce process. A spouse has 30 days to file a formal Response after being served the Petition so nothing can happen until this time has passed. Then, depending on whether the spouse files an answer or not, will depend on what steps your sister can take. If no Response is file, she can proceed with a default action which process is fairly quick to finalize. If her spouse, on the other hand, files a Response, unfortunately this will hold up the case until a resolution of the various issues can be made. As far as your sister getting a lawyer, it may be premature at this point until she sees whether a Response is filed or not file. Either way, depending on the complexity of the issues, with the right professional help such as using our office for the remaining needed documentation, she can probably get through the divorce proceedings without a lawyer.

  2. Max Leaman May 30, 2017 at 3:42 pm - Reply

    Hello Sandy, I would like your opinion on the matter of my parents divorce. It has been well over 2 years since my mom has filed a divorce motion against my step-dad. He committed a crime and was trialed by the justice system and was given 2 years in prison. He has been released for 2 years now and is still putting up a fight with the divorce proceedings, particularly for the assets of cash, the house and the condo. What would be the right direction for my mom to proceed so that the assets will get split and the divorce done with. I know that my step-dad is fighting the divorce even though he committed crimes (sexual abuse) against our family members including my brother and I and our friends, we we’re all under the age of 15 and he was only convicted for my brother and I. He likes to fight legal proceedings and cannot see that he is in the wrong-doing and will not give up and let my mom take her share of assets. He has tried to convince our family that he has changed because he has been seeing a therapist while in prison and after release. Though I do not believe him because he still acts manipulative and controlling and will only doing something if he sees some sort of compensation in return on his end. These are not qualities of a trustworthy person but I do not know what I can do to help with the case so that we can have him out of our lives for good, they we’re married for 16 years prior to the divorce and we we’re once a happy family until I brought to light the crimes he was committing while we we’re sleeping in our beds at home. Any advice to help my mom get through the divorce with a win on the assets would be very helpful. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this.

    • Sandy McCarthy May 31, 2017 at 4:06 am - Reply

      Hi Max -unfortunately our services are strictly limited to preparing legal documents. We are not attorneys and therefore we cannot advise what your mother needs to do in order to “win assets” in the divorce. In California it’s not typically a matter of winning assets as the courts typically try to make sure that community property and debts are usually equally divided between the parties. There may be extenuating circumstance in your mom’s case, making it more important for her to get the necessary legal advice from an attorney.

  3. Paulo V. July 17, 2018 at 12:29 pm - Reply

    Hello Sandy,
    I’m kind of lost from where my divorce process is at this time. My ex-wife had filed a divorce on me back in early February and the documents were served the last week of February. I filed my response in March and i’m not exactly sure what to do now or what’s going to happen. Me and my ex-wife pretty much have everything settled and we have great communication.
    We just don’t fully understand how the divorce process works and what else we need to do.

    I understand that in California it takes six months for our papers to be processed but what exactly should we be expecting? A letter in the mail stating the next steps? A phone call from the family court office?

    Please advice!

    • Sandy McCarthy July 20, 2018 at 8:12 am - Reply

      The court is not going automatically finish up your divorce case. If you filed a response then there is a substantial amount of other paperwork that will be required in order to complete the process. Otherwise your case will simply be stagnant and inactive. Please give our office a call at 800-747-2780 for help in completing this. With the right paperwork being submitted, you should be able to have final judgment fairly quickly.

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