Often, people who are using an attorney to finalize their marriage termination feel their divorce is taking too long. These individuals often wonder what they can do to help the process move along to finalization. In California, a divorce can only be finalized after six months from the date of jurisdiction, or service. While uncontested divorces can usually be completed prior to this termination date, contested divorces on average can last between one to two years! Thus, the divorce timeline can vary dramatically from one case to another.
What Determines How Long Divorce Takes in California?
1. Legal Representation
If you hire an attorney for your divorce, you should remember that your lawyer has little motivation to settle and complete the process quickly. Think about it: Attorneys are typically paid by the hour! Therefore, the longer the case continues, the higher their fees. Additionally, attorneys have a strict duty to protect their client’s interests. However, the results of a divorce case will not always justify the costs associated with this approach.
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 your divorce completed in a timely manner. As a result, our divorce cases are often completed in record time compared to similar cases handled by an attorney.
2. Contested Issues
There are several issues that may extend the amount of time it takes to complete your divorce. For example, such issues can include child custody and support, division of community property, and alimony. Furthermore, when children are involved and the parties cannot agree, the court may require psychiatric evaluations and court-ordered studies.
Ultimately, if a couple cannot resolve contested issues, they will have to continue to trial and let the judge make final decisions. As a result, outstanding contested issues will cause a longer divorce. For instance, if the court’s calendar is busy, there may be longer waiting times for hearings, trials, and temporary orders. In turn, if each spouse files motions, the divorce process will most likely be delayed.
3. Prolonged Discovery
If the parties cannot agree on a resolution of contested issues, they may require discovery. For example, if two spouses 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.
Further, some divorce proceedings are very complex and may have underlying issues that need to be settled before addressing property division. For example, if your spouse fraudulently conveyed property, the court would have to resolve this issue before making a final determination about the division of community property.
4. Cooperation & Communication
Cooperation and communication are key in quickly finalizing a divorce. In fact, a prolonged divorce is often a result of disagreement between parties. Therefore, many couples choose to seek mediation to reach agreements on contested issues. A mediator can serve as a neutral third party and help facilitate discussions to reach a quick resolution.
What To Do if Your Divorce is Taking Too Long
1. Fire Your Divorce Attorney
As mentioned above, there is no urgency for an attorney to quickly settle a divorce. Therefore, if a divorce is taking too long because your attorney is failing to tackle matters in a timely manner, you can fire them. To do so, send your attorney a letter saying that you no longer want them to represent you. Also, remember that as a client, you have the right to your entire case file. Contact us for more information about firing your attorney and how A People’s Choice can help you handle the remaining aspects of your divorce.
2. 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. Then, 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 too 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 WITHOUT paying hefty legal fees.