What is the six month waiting period for a divorce in San Diego and when does the clock start? California put this portion of family law in place to ensure that married couples had a “cooling off period” and an opportunity to give full consideration to the decision to divorce. The waiting period also provides time to correct decisions taken in the heat of the moment and the opportunity for a reconciliation. Six months is the earliest that a court can approve and record a divorce, and restore your status as a “single person.” Neither party is allowed to remarry, or to file taxes separately until the six months waiting period has passed.
It is important to know what starts the clock on the six month waiting period before a divorce in San Diego can be finalized, legally speaking. In a California divorce, the “Petitioner” is the party which files the paperwork to begin the divorce process. The law requires a six month period from the date of service upon the “Respondent,” which is the person who has been served notice that the Petitioner has filed for a divorce.
The important date to remember in this context is not the date the divorce petition was filed, but the date of service upon the “Respondent.” You may be able to complete your paperwork, and receive approval from a Judge or Magistrate. However, your divorce will not be filed and completed until the six month cooling off period has passed from the date of service.
The six month waiting period for a divorce in San Diego and across California imposes no limitation on the amount of time a divorce can take. Complex divorces, such as those involving significant assets or business ownership may take a year or longer to complete. If there are child custody and parenting time issues, it will be necessary to attend a Custody Mediation before your first hearing in the Court.
There is no rule or law which prevents the couple from submitting divorce paperwork at any time in the six month waiting period. This is actually a sound goal, as it will take the Court a period of time to review your final paperwork and grant approval. There is almost always a backlog in San Diego Family Courts relating to the review of divorce cases for approval. This is especially true in this era of the pandemic, when the Courts were closed for several weeks this past spring.
The divorce decree may not be filed, and your status as a single person cannot be restored until the six month waiting period for a divorce has passed, regardless of when a Judge or Magistrate actually approves the divorce paperwork.
Learn more and protect your own interests. We invite you to contact us or call 760-389-3927 to schedule an appointment for a remote or socially distanced consultation with one of our experienced Certified Family Law Specialists.