The short answer to the question posed in the headline is that California divorces take at least six months to be final. This is due to the six-month waiting period enforced in this state. This is the earliest that you can be restored to the status of being single.

That said, there are many things people can do during that six months to make the process go faster once the waiting period is up. There are also things people can do to drag the process out.

Ways to expedite the process

If you want to move as quickly as possible during the waiting period, you can be doing things during that time to expedite the process. You can:

  • Get all your paperwork organized
  • Find an attorney, mediator and other parties who will play a role in the process
  • Schedule meetings or mediation sessions
  • Organize personal property
  • Resolve as many divorce-related matters as you can, including property division, child support, child custody and spousal support
  • Reach full agreements and have it approved by the court

Ways to slow down the process

Alternatively, there are many elements that can slow down the process during or following the waiting period. This includes:

  • Waiting to serve the divorce paperwork, which is what starts the six-month clock
  • Failing to respond to legal requests in a timely manner
  • Holding back financial documentation or information
  • Needing several sessions to resolve divorce-related matters
  • Pursuing litigation instead of mediation or collaborative divorce

Whether you want a swift divorce or expect it be a longer process, expect any divorce in California to take at least six months. What you do during that time and once the waiting period expires will be crucial to the rest of the process, so think carefully about what you want to do or what you want to avoid.