For many couples, the decision to get divorced is the most emotionally difficult part. Once both parties agree that a divorce is forthcoming, the process can begin. This brings a lot of relief to those who have been unhappy or in limbo in their marriage for a long time.
Once the decision is made, many couples want to know how long it is going to take them to get divorced from their spouse. Many people hold the misguided belief that if both parties agree to the divorce, the process moves quickly. Though agreement surely helps the process to go smoothly, it does not necessarily mean the divorce is going to be fast. There are several factors that can add time to the divorce process.
When you understand how the divorce process works and the factors that can lengthen it, you can make empowered decisions throughout negotiations. Having a good understanding of divorce can also help you to establish a general timeline for your changing lifestyle.
Six Month Minimum
It is important to know that no matter how amicable the divorce may be, California requires a six-month minimum period for divorces. This time is measured from when you file for divorce until when the divorce becomes legal. This mandatory time period helps to minimize the number of couples who remarry after they divorce — the buffer period ensures that both parties are sure about their decision.
If both parties agree to the divorce and are on the same page about all assets, custody, and support payments, it is possible to take the minimum amount of time to finalize your divorce. However, even if you both agree to the divorce, you may not finish your divorce process in six months. There are many factors that lengthen the process beyond the minimum timeframe as well, so it is best to assume that it’s going to take longer than six months.
One of the most significant parts of the divorce process is dividing assets between both spouses. The law requires that shared assets be split evenly between both members of the marriage. This includes items such as:
- Stocks and bonds
- Retirement accounts
- Savings accounts
- Large ticket items like cars, boats, and expensive jewelry
- Trust funds and inheritances
Some couples have amassed a lot of assets together, and the process takes a long time. Others do not have a significant amount of assets, and the process is more straightforward.
Dividing assets does not mean that each asset must be split equally. Instead, it means that both parties must retain assets that add to an equal amount. For example, one spouse may keep the home while the other spouse may keep the vacation cabin and the car. Each person receives about the same amount without dividing each item.
However, it is possible that your assets are going to need to be sold to divide them evenly. In many cases, couples have one home and few other assets to split. If the home cannot be offset by other benefits, it must be sold, and the profits divided between the spouses to make both sides even.
The process to agree on a settlement can be long. Many couples argue over large ticket items or assets with sentimental value. It can be difficult to see your life laid out and divided, and many people find that asset division is more emotional than they anticipated.
The more assets that you and your spouse are splitting, the longer the process is likely to take. If you rent your apartment and take public transportation, for example, the division process can be much simpler than if you own multiple properties and many different stocks.
If you and your spouse have children together, the divorce process becomes even more complicated and takes more time. Because you are both responsible for your children’s well-being and upbringing, the court can help you to decide how you will maintain your participation after you are divorced. This happens through child custody and child support agreements.
Child custody can be complicated. In some situations, both parents are capable of having guardianship over their children. In other scenarios, one parent is better equipped to physically care for the children while the other is not. During divorce proceedings, the court will decide what custody setup is best for the children in question. Potential custody setups include:
- Shared custody. This occurs when both parents spend equal time caring for the child or children.
- Partial custody. In this scenario, one parent cares for the child or children most of the time, while the other parent has custody less frequently.
- One parent has custody, but the other parent has the legal right to see the child or children on a regular basis.
- Sole custody. One parent has complete custody rights while the other parent has none.
Custody battles can become emotional and volatile as many parents are passionate about their children and wish to be in their lives. If you have children, custody negotiations can significantly lengthen your divorce process.
Child support negotiations are similar. Usually, these come into play if one parent makes significantly more money than the other or if one parent has more custody. The financial payments aim to make the contribution from each parent more equal. Child support payment negotiations can be difficult depending on the income of each parent. Sometimes, the court must find creative ways to ensure both parents are contributing to their children’s upbringing.
Some divorce processes also include spousal support negotiations. Spousal support, or alimony, ensures both parties can begin their new lives with reliable income and financial stability. If both parties work and earn similar livings, spousal support is usually not necessary. However, if one spouse earns a significant amount more than the other, spousal support may be necessary to help the lower-earning spouse get on their feet after a divorce.
Though not all divorces require spousal support, some do. If you are in a situation where one spouse worked outside of the home while the other stayed home to manage the household and children, spousal support will likely come up during your divorce proceedings. Negotiations for these payments often lengthen the divorce process.
One way to help speed the divorce process is through divorce mediation. Though this process is not right for all couples, it does work for many people who agree that divorce is the best option. If you and your spouse are on the same page, mediation is a way to negotiate the above areas without sitting through hours of court litigation.
In mediation, there is one mediator working directly with you and your spouse rather than two attorneys fighting against each other. In mediation, you and your spouse discuss the details of your divorce to come to an agreement on each matter. The mediating attorney helps to make sure you cover all of the necessary information and come to a conclusion that is fair and legal.
This process can eliminate some stress from the process. Rather than fighting with your spouse, you are collaborating to achieve a shared goal. However, many divorcing couples have a difficult time working together. Because of this, mediation is not the best option in every situation.
Finding a Divorce Attorney
One of the best ways you can expedite your divorce is by finding a divorce attorney you work well with. Not all attorneys are the same, and it is important to find an individual who can meet your legal needs while making you feel comfortable and listened to. Before you begin your divorce negotiations, take the time to find an attorney who makes you feel at ease about your situation. You should be able to trust their instincts and feel as though you can speak openly with them. If you feel as though they are not listening to you or don’t believe in your case, it is best to continue looking for someone who does.
It is also extremely important to find an attorney who charges fees that you can afford. Many people jump into a divorce with an attorney only to find later on that they can’t afford their services. This does not work in their favor, and it can significantly drag out the process. Discussing your budget with your attorney is one of the best ways you can expedite the divorce process. This conversation ensures that you know what to expect and can trust that your attorney will be by your side throughout your divorce.
Contact Khalaf Law Group
Our team at Khalaf Law Group has been representing families for many years. We understand the unique emotional and financial challenges that come with the divorce process. We believe that everyone should have access to proper legal services and the best care available. Our team provides unparalleled legal services in the Pasadena area, and we are ready to help you with your divorce.
For more information on how we can help you, please contact Khalaf Law Group today.