How long does it take to get a divorce in California? Well, there are two separate dates to keep in mind – 1) when the case has been completed and a Judgment entered, and 2) when a divorce is terminated.
Divorce – The clock starts ticking as soon as the other party is served with the Petition. From this date, the earliest termination date that can be entered (when the parties are considered single) is 6 months plus 1 day from the date of service. For example, if a Petition for dissolution was filed January 1st, but not served on the other party until March 1st, the earliest termination date of the parties marriage would be September 2nd. It is important to understand that the termination date of the marriage is different than the date the Judgment is entered. Keep in mind, however, that the court proceedings can be completed long before this termination date. In most of our cases, when the parties agree and timely complete their steps in the process, the court proceedings can be concluded and a Judgment entered within 2-3 months. In our earlier example, a final Judgment could be submitted on April 2nd and entered by the court shortly afterwards. As you can see, a Final Judgment can be entered by the court months before the real “marriage termination” date. The parties would not be able to remarry until after the termination date noted on the Notice of Entry of Judgment.
On the other hand, if the parties do not agree, the other side files a Response and the matter proceeds to trial, this will substantially delay the process. Often the setting of a trial may not take place for a year or two after the Petition is filed.
Legal Separation – There is no termination date in a legal separation. The time-line process is exactly the same as a divorce, except for the termination date. Once a Judgment of Legal Separation is entered, the case is completed.
Annulment – An annulment always requires a court hearing. A hearing can be requested 30 days after the date of service. At the hearing, a Judgment can be entered if the annulment is approved and the case is completed at that time. There is no future “termination date” and parties would be able to remarry immediately.