Process, Divorce Process Length

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How Long Does The Divorce Process Take in Orange County?

The divorce process in Orange County, CA will take at least six months to finalize. This period of six months is counted from the date the party who initiated the divorce proceedings had the other party served the divorce papers, or the date when the other party responded to it – whichever is earlier.

Even when the divorce proceedings have concluded, your divorce is not final until the judge has signed a Judgment of Dissolution. A number of additional steps and completion of certain forms are required before this Judgment is signed. 

Can Your Divorce Process Take Longer?

Six months is the minimum time period stipulated under the law before your divorce can be finalized. However, there is no maximum limit. Legal issues can sometimes get prolonged beyond this period and your divorce process could take longer. Some of the critical matters to be resolved in most divorces include child custody, property division, child support, and alimony.

It is best if you and the other side recognize the need to resolve all divorce matters through negotiation, and are represented by diligent family law attorneys in Orange County. However, if the other party is uncooperative, your divorce attorney should be competent enough to handle matters using the maximum force of law and avoid the possibility of your divorce getting dragged on for years.

Cooperation is in the Parties’ Own Interest

If you have an experienced divorce attorney on your side, they will be able to explain and convince you that being vengeful or vindictive is never going to help your own case. Family courts in Orange County do not tolerate vindictive actions and can react adversely to your case. A skilled attorney through negotiation may also help convince the other party to adopt a cooperative stance and work towards a swift resolution of all issues. 

Your attorney can explain to both sides that neither of you will be free to remarry until your divorce is final. Neither of you can even file taxes as a “single” until the single status is approved by the court. If children are involved, they will not be able to move on if the divorce process is prolonged. The stress levels and the legal costs will escalate for both parties.

In other words, cooperation is the best way out for both sides. Try to keep the communication channels open so that you can obtain reasonable agreement to all your divorce matters one by one through your attorney, and finalize your divorce as soon as possible.

However, even if you and your ex-spouse resolve all issues much faster through negotiation, the waiting period of six months for an Orange County divorce cannot be reduced. Your goal should be to make maximum use of these six months to resolve key issues such as child custody, property division, parenting plans, and child support and spousal support plans.

If you can reach an agreement with the other party during this waiting period of six months, your attorney can keep all agreements and documentation fully ready for the judge. This way once the six month period is over, the judge can quickly finalize your divorce and sign the divorce agreement. 

Summary Dissolution – A Quicker Alternative

In some cases, a faster and somewhat easier way to obtain a divorce in Orange County is through a summary dissolution. You or your former spouse will not be required to speak to a family court judge to receive a summary dissolution. The pre-requisites for this option are as follows.

The couple must:

  • Be married for not more than five years
  • Have no kids
  • Neither own a land or building nor rent it for longer than a year
  • Not have incurred a debt higher than $6,000 after marriage
  • Not have acquired marital property above $40,000
  • Not have separate property above $40,000
  • Agree that neither party will receive spousal support
  • Have an agreement for dividing marital property

Bifurcated Divorce

It is possible in divorce that you and your former spouse may arrive at an agreement on some of the key issues, but not on others. Depending on the situation, you might be eligible to have a bifurcated divorce. In this case, the Orange County family court will first take up the matter of ending the marriage, while the contested matters can be addressed later.

You should note that a bifurcated divorce may not be granted in all cases, but your attorney can evaluate whether your circumstances might merit this strategy. A bifurcated divorce may involve issues, such as:

  • Child custody and visitation
  • Validity of a prenuptial agreement
  • The date of separation of the parties

The bifurcated divorce can work sometimes because resolution of one key issue may pave the way for resolution of all the remaining issues.

Residency Requirements for a Divorce in Orange County

Under California law, at least one spouse should have been a California resident for six months or more, and should been residing in Orange County for three months or more.

In other words, if you or your spouse has recently moved to Orange County following your separation which took place while you were residing in another part of California, you will have to complete at least three months of residency in Orange County before you can file for divorce here.

Until your state and county residency requirements are met, you have the option of legal separation. Talk to a knowledgeable divorce lawyer in Orange County to understand your legal position for filing a divorce.

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