• understanding 6 month waiting period for divorce

The 6 Month Waiting Period for Divorce in California

The following will offer a better understanding about the 6 month waiting period as it pertains to people filing for divorce in California.

The 6 month waiting period which is also described as the “cooling off “ period is the time set by California statute before a marriage is formally terminated and the parties are allowed to remarry. This period of time is the amount of time the courts want to pass to allow a party to stop the California divorce process and reconcile, should they want to do so.

Key Points to California’s Waiting Period

A married couple does not have to be separated six months before filing a California divorce. There is no separation requirement for people filing divorce, and in many instances, a couple may still be living together when they file the divorce proceeding.
A couple can file and complete a divorce prior to expiration of the 6 month waiting period. In many cases, the final Judgment is submitted long before the expiration of the waiting period. In some of our cases, the final Judgment has been processed as early as 45 days after the date the divorce was filed. Some courts process final Judgments within 1 to 2 weeks from submitting the Judgment. Other courts may take substantially longer to process the final Judgment.
The 6 month waiting period determines the earliest date the marriage is considered legally terminated and allows either party the freedom to remarry. In the California divorce process, the earliest date a marriage can be terminated is 6 months PLUS 1 days after the date of service.
The 6 month waiting period starts from the date of service of the divorce paperwork. The date of service is the date the non-filing party receives or acknowledges receipt of the divorce Petition. This service date could even be the same day the divorce is filed. For example, if a divorce Petition was filed on April 15th, and the documents served on the other party that same day, the 6 month waiting period and earliest termination date of the marriage would be October 16th. However, if the documents were not served on the other party until May 20th, the earliest termination date of the marriage would be November 21st. For this reason, if you want to complete the divorce as quickly as possible, it is important to get the other party served right away. This will start the clock ticking towards the final date of the 6 month waiting period.
If parties decide to reconcile within the 6 month waiting period, they can file paperwork with the court to dismiss their divorce case. If a final Judgment has already been entered and a termination date of marriage established (but the termination date has not yet passed), filing a dismissal, in effect, extinguishes the pending termination of their marriage. Both parties would need to agree to dismiss the case to extinguish a pending termination date in a divorce.
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By |2018-01-18T15:47:38+00:00April 26th, 2015|Family Law|40 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.

40 Comments

  1. Melissa February 20, 2018 at 11:52 pm - Reply

    If a divorce/legal sep was filled almost 8 years ago (the wife had a lot of substance use issues, couldn’t hold a job and needed rehab so he stayed didn’t pull the trigger because she needed the coverage of health insurance, husband sent her to school to obtain job, etc…) and then the papers were finally submitted to finalize the divorce (moved counties so it had to be closed and reopened in another county) does the 6 month rule still apply or is it retroactive. It is uncontested.

    • Sandy McCarthy February 21, 2018 at 4:54 am - Reply

      The 6 month timeline starts from date of service.

  2. kateltn March 17, 2018 at 2:51 pm - Reply

    The judge did the final judgment and it hasn’t been 6 months but we want to work it out now. can we stay married?

    • Sandy McCarthy March 17, 2018 at 2:53 pm - Reply

      Contact our office if you want to file documents to cancel the proceedings. 800-747-2780.

      • Katelyn Dowell April 29, 2018 at 6:32 pm - Reply

        i was told that i could not canel the divorce now that a judgment was made. i would love to hear from u

        • Sandy McCarthy May 1, 2018 at 3:08 am - Reply

          You may be able to dismiss a case if the termination date of the marriage has not passed. If you need legal advice, talk with an attorney. Call our office if you just need help with the paperwork.

  3. Carol April 13, 2018 at 3:20 am - Reply

    If we were married in California. Married 31 years but the last four years of the 31 years I’ve lived in Arizona. Estranged spouse lives in California. Can I file in Arizona and have the marriage disolved according to Arizona laws?

    • Sandy McCarthy April 14, 2018 at 3:12 am - Reply

      Perhaps but I do not know Arizona law. More importantly, it may be problematic regarding jurisdiction over your spouse regarding property division and debt division.

  4. Maria May 3, 2018 at 1:03 pm - Reply

    We filed for divorce in October and judgement entered on January 21, 2018. My end of marriage date is May 9, 2018 but my husband said he submitted the paperwork to withdrawal the marriage on May 2, 2018. He was the petitioner. However, I do not want to reconcile. Will this stop the divorce proceedings?

    Thanks

    • Sandy McCarthy May 4, 2018 at 8:25 pm - Reply

      Did you file a Response? We are missing factual procedural information. You may want to call the office at 800-747-2780.

  5. Juana May 20, 2018 at 10:15 pm - Reply

    I filed for divorce and served my husband over half a year ago. However, I had to amend the petition and had to serve him again about a month ago. Does the 6 month waiting period start all over again?

    Thank you.

    • Sandy McCarthy May 21, 2018 at 8:23 pm - Reply

      Not usually. The 6 months usually starts from the date of first service.

  6. Tifanny May 23, 2018 at 9:34 am - Reply

    If me and my husband filed a dissolution of marriage and everything was done February, we are just waiting for the 6 months to pass, the marriage is to be terminated in August. Can he stop the dissolution alone?

    • Sandy McCarthy May 23, 2018 at 11:39 am - Reply

      It would depend upon what type of proceeding you filed. We would have to look at your paperwork.

  7. Maria May 28, 2018 at 10:26 pm - Reply

    Quick question, if I received the final judgment of dissolution paper work with a termination date of 8/27/18 and on the paperwork it states that I will be restoring my name back. Once I get my certified copies, would I be able to change my last name already or would I have to wait until the termination date passes. I asked social security office and they said they only need the certified paperwork and wasn’t sure of the future termination date because it is not on their rules. I asked the family law assistance line but they said they didn’t know but they think it’s until the divorce is final. Not sure what I can do or if it’s illegal in anyway to just got ahead and request to restore my name.

    • Sandy McCarthy June 4, 2018 at 10:16 am - Reply

      I would suggest submitting the request and see if it is approved.

  8. Gigi Ochoa June 14, 2018 at 9:35 pm - Reply

    My 6 month waiting period was on June 5. Are we going to receive some sort of paperwork telling up it is completed? Are we required to go the the family resolution conference set for October?

    • Sandy McCarthy June 16, 2018 at 7:55 pm - Reply

      You should get a Notice of Entry of Judgment. If you haven’t gotten that you are probably not divorced.

  9. Tom D. June 25, 2018 at 7:57 am - Reply

    Good Morning Sandy, My daughter filed in January, her spouse filed a response. The 6 months has passed, what does she do next?

    • Sandy McCarthy June 25, 2018 at 8:03 pm - Reply

      Are they able to reach an agreement on the issues? Have her give us a call.

  10. Teresa Banks July 9, 2018 at 11:32 am - Reply

    i got leave to file a first amended complaint which included marital tort and the new petition was substantially longer. It was agreed to by all parties and counsel. The first amended petition was served and no answer was filed and no demur and the clerk entered a default on the first amended petition. No contest has happened but the head judge won’t give me a default judgment and states that the answer filed 6 years ago was still an answer. The answer actually addresses nothing at all in the new petition. What do I do?

    • Sandy McCarthy July 9, 2018 at 7:01 pm - Reply

      Yo might want to talk to a lawyer.

  11. Peet July 25, 2018 at 4:58 pm - Reply

    I read somewhere on the Contra Costa Civil/Divorce (Family court?) where it says 6 months is the norm but I know I saw something that said if there is a mental health issue, you can have the divorce done in one month. Is that the Mental Health problem of the Petitioner (me) or Respondant (Spouse?) I am stressed and she has ran a credit card up in my name while I was thrown out 5 years ago. She has a boyfriend living with her. I had a debt collecter contact me about 5000 dollars on a credit card through a box store. I take SSRI , am I qualified to have this damn marriage end in 1 month rather than 6. Sorry for expressing myself but I would like to know if this is real. also there is property between us. She is threatening to stop morgage payments. 2 payments skipped and my FICA has been dropped 200 points.

    • Sandy McCarthy July 25, 2018 at 9:32 pm - Reply

      I am not aware of any California process to shorten the time period for the divorce as set by California law. Feel free to talk to an attorney if you need legal advice. If you just need help with the paperwork, please call us at 800-747-2780.

  12. veronica July 25, 2018 at 5:22 pm - Reply

    i filed on 6.14.18 he sign the summons on 6.15.18 and it was filed on 7.13.18 when does the 6 month period start?

    • Sandy McCarthy July 25, 2018 at 9:35 pm - Reply

      The earliest date a marriage can be terminated is 6 months PLUS 1 days after the date of SERVICE. You do not “sign” a Summons so I am not sure to what you are referring.

  13. veronica July 28, 2018 at 9:51 am - Reply

    If i wanted to dismiss the divorce how do I do that or do I have to wait…the judgement has not being filed

    • Sandy McCarthy August 4, 2018 at 8:22 am - Reply

      Contact us to review the particulars of your situation to see if we can help you with a dismissal.

  14. Marina August 2, 2018 at 2:52 pm - Reply

    what does judgment packet received after hearing (sent to dept. 64 on 07/19/2018) mean. How long after this to receive a answer??

    • Sandy McCarthy August 2, 2018 at 9:30 pm - Reply

      I would assume this refers to the final judgment documents. I cannot comment on how long the court might take to process the judgment documents.

  15. Ron August 6, 2018 at 1:54 pm - Reply

    I have my final court date on August 16. My lawyer tells me that the judge will finally rule on the allimoney agreement and finalize the divorce on that date (08-16). It’s been over a year an a half my to be ex-spouse was served. I am planning to get married with my to be spouse in Florida as soon as possible, hopefully before the end of August since I have the closing of the purchase of a home on August 30. WIll my to be ex-spouse have any legal right to this new property? In order to get a marriage license in Orange County, FL, the court asks for the date the marriage ended and a certified copy of the court decree if marrying within 30 days of the getting divorced. Will I get a document stating that I am divorced and eligible to remarry on the date the judge signs the divorce (August 16). Is August 16 my end of marriage date (date of divorced; milestone date in my life?) Or do I have to wait more time? How long?
    Thank you for your help.

    • Sandy McCarthy August 8, 2018 at 6:18 pm - Reply

      If you have a lawyer in your case, I would post your questions to your lawyer. He or she would be in a much better situation to answer the questions posed.

  16. Robert Estrella August 10, 2018 at 11:05 pm - Reply

    My girlfriend filed for divorce from her ex husband. She received notice from the courts that he divorce finalizes on August 16th 2018. So then that day comes is she finally divorced? Does she need to file more paperwork? We live in Orange County, CA

    • Sandy McCarthy August 11, 2018 at 9:28 pm - Reply

      Without seeing the documents, I would not want to comment.

  17. Ashley August 21, 2018 at 2:11 am - Reply

    Husband filed and served me through my attorney May 15 2018. We are in Ca and He’s rushing through divorce to finalize before end of 2018 due to tax advantage for him and change of tax laws come 2019. We are almost done with a 730 custody evaluation and have an upcoming trial setting conference on September 24. How likely is he able to get what he wants in terms of finalizing before 2018 ends? He suddenly is turning very amicable and wants to finalize before 2018 ends in December. Thank you.

    • Sandy McCarthy August 21, 2018 at 11:49 am - Reply

      I cannot comment on whether or not the court would be able to issue a judgment before the end of the year. I would recommend you ask your attorney.

  18. Tina September 4, 2018 at 5:22 pm - Reply

    I received a Notice Of Entry Of Judgment.
    It says the judgment was entered on Aug 16,2018 for dissolution!
    Then in a box below it says effective date of termination of marital status ia Dec 11,2018
    Does this mean My Divorce is now FINAL? I plan to remarry in December! Is there any way my Ex can write a statement saying hw does not plan to appeal so i can remarry sooner. Thank you

    • Sandy McCarthy September 5, 2018 at 7:03 pm - Reply

      Your termination date when you are subject is the 12/11/18 days but your case is completed as of 8/16.

  19. Mili September 9, 2018 at 10:30 am - Reply

    My husband filed divorced by agreement, the 6 month already passed, but we still don’t have an agreement is that means I’m divorced? Or not ?

    • Sandy McCarthy September 9, 2018 at 6:59 pm - Reply

      If you don’t have an agreement and there has not been a trial, you are most likely not divorced. You can always check the court docket for status of the case. Let us know if you need help to move the case along.

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