This is a common question that divorcing spouses have. Once they decide to pursue a divorce, some people want to get it over with as soon as possible. After all, divorce is a stressful life event. It is only natural to feel that way.

So, how long does a divorce generally take?

California law requires spouses to wait six months

Under California law, a divorce is not final until six months have passed from the date the spouse filing for divorce serves his or her spouse with the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. This is a mandatory waiting period.

However, spouses can turn in all of their paperwork and essentially complete the divorce process sooner than six months – the divorce is simply not final until the six-month period is up. Even so, that still depends heavily on the family’s situation.

Several factors can impact the duration of a divorce, including:

  • Whether or not the divorce is amicable;
  • If spouses have children and must determine custody;
  • How many assets they share and must divide; and
  • Whether or not they agree on the matters in their divorce.

For example, if spouses face serious conflicts and their divorce winds up in court, the process often takes much longer than six months. How long a divorce takes depends almost entirely on the family’s circumstances.

Regardless, avoid rushing the divorce process

Having to wait for the divorce to be final might be stressful. Even though it is natural for spouses to want to put the divorce behind them, they should not try to rush through their divorce. The agreements and settlements reached in the divorce proceedings will impact the family’s future. Therefore, spouses must take time to reach fair and realistic agreements.

However, spouses can still streamline the process of their divorce. They can pursue a collaborative divorce if they:

  1. Agree on most of the issues involved in the divorce proceedings, such as how they will divide custody of the children and distribute their marital property; and
  2. If they plan. Preparing for a divorce might seem overwhelming, but it can help streamline the process if spouses are prepared before they even file their paperwork.

They must still fulfill the six-month waiting period, but this option allows spouses to resolve issues on their own terms and at the pace they choose.