California has a minimum waiting period requirement of 6 months from the date of service of the Petition and Summons until the parties can be divorced. How long it takes beyond the 6-month waiting period depends on how easily and quickly the parties reach an agreement on their issues. If the parties have an acrimonious divorce and engage in protracted litigation, their divorce proceeding could take many months, or even a few years, beyond the 6-month waiting period.
California also has a minimum residency requirement. The residency requirement is also 6 months and is sometimes confused with the 6-month waiting period. The residency requirement mandates that at least one party to the action must be a resident of California for 6 months, and a resident of the county in which the Petition is filed for 3 months, prior to filing the Petition.
Sometimes a party, who was married elsewhere, has recently moved to California and wishes to file for divorce upon arriving in California. The new arrival may potentially have to wait a full year before getting divorced due to the combination of the 6-month residency requirement prior to filing the Petition and the 6-month waiting period after service of the Summons and Petition. This full year could be shortened in half by filing for Legal Separation first because Legal separation does not have a residency requirement. After filing the Petition for Legal Separation and once the 6-month residency requirement is met, then the Petition for Legal Separation can be amended to a Petition for Dissolution. The time that elapsed from the service of the Petition and Summons for the Legal Separation will count toward the 6-month waiting period for the Dissolution.
If you are a new resident in California and wish to avoid an additional 6-month delay in getting divorced due to the residency requirement, contact the Law Office of Christine Nguyen Thomas for a consultation about your options on filing a Petition. The Law Office of Christine Nguyen Thomas serves residents of Ventura County, including the cities of Camarillo, Oxnard, Ventura, Ojai, Port Hueneme, Santa Paula, Fillmore, Moorpark, Simi Valley, and Thousand Oaks.