• 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.
When you choose A People’s Choice to help with your divorce proceedings, you can be assured that your final judgment will be entered as soon as possible.

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By |2018-01-18T15:47:38+00:00April 26th, 2015|Family Law|22 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.


  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?


    • 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.

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