If you have ever been in a divorce proceeding, you have undoubtedly asked, “How long do I wait until the divorce is finalized?” The answer depends on you and your spouse’s choices of either handling your case collaboratively or dealing with the difficulties of litigation.

Whether you are excitedly anticipating “freedom”, ready to move on with your new life, or looking to escape an abusive relationship, it is natural to wonder how long it will take to finalize the divorce. The first step is the most difficult, and your situation and choices determine the rest.

California Laws

California’s laws for the dissolution of an uncontested marriage are clear-cut and uncomplicated.  There is a minimum wait time of six months that allows for any reconciliation or change of mind and the gathering and submission of financial disclosures. The wait time for finalization and the length of the process depends on any complexities that may arise.

The wait time begins from when the respondent is served with the divorce documents. During this time, a financial disclosure requirement must be met.

The Divorce Process

The basic uncontested divorce process is straightforward. However, it may be lengthened significantly if there are any complexities or difficulties.

These are the basic steps to the process:

  1. File the divorce petition with the court.
  2. Serve the divorce documents to your spouse.
  3. Your spouse responds to the divorce papers.
  4. The court issues temporary orders, if requested.
  5. Financial disclosures must be exchanged.
  6. The discovery process begins, if the case is in litigation.
  7. Settlement may occur or not
  8. Settlement conferences can be held
  9. Trial is held if settlement is unsuccessful and the judge makes his or her rulings.


Complexities are any issues that need to be settled beyond a straightforward uncontested divorce. These problematic issues may increase the wait time for finalization of the divorce settlement to one year or two years, or more, depending on their nature or depth of the conflicts between the parties.

Here are a few complexities that may lengthen the process and waiting time:

  • Disagreements between the Parties
  • Division of assets, including tracing of separate property assets
  • Spousal support
  • Child support, custody, and parenting time-share issues
  • Other issues that cannot be easily settled

A Collaborative Divorce is a less expensive option than litigation and is a time-saving approach to the divorce process. It requires both spouses to work together with the help of divorce professionals to resolve financial issues, separation of assets and issues involving children.

Choose Collaborative Divorce

When a couple chooses to collaborate on the issues surrounding the dissolution of their marriage, the benefits are well worth the hard work. It just takes a willingness, determination, and follow-through to make it happen. It is a much better approach to divorce, as the following four points indicate.

  • 1. Collaboration gives the Couple Control over the Outcome 
  • Working together to resolve marital disputes gives the couple control over the resolution process, rather than the Court.
  • 2. Collaboration Reduces Stress for Everyone Involved
    1. When the divorcing couple works together, it alleviates tension and stress for everyone involved, including the couple, their children, family, and attorneys. It is a much more pleasant experience.
    2. 3. Collaboration can Shorten the Wait Time
    3. Collaborative Divorce can shorten the wait time to finalize the divorce because all the issues are settled before presenting the divorce settlement to the court.
    4. 4. Collaborative Divorce Eliminates the Need to Proceed by a Court Calendar
    5. The couple and the professionals involved in their case control scheduling of meetings and the topics of those meetings. They don’t have to wait for the court to schedule a hearing on every issue.
    6. The Wait Time for Divorce Finalization is Decided by You

      Unlike a litigated case, the wait to finalize a divorce is up to you and your spouse if you handle it collaboratively.  California rules and processes must be followed, but collaboration is an intentional choice that will significantly shorten the length of time that it takes to complete your case.

      The benefits of collaboration are considerable for everyone involved.  At Kim Mediation and Law Center, we can help with any questions or concerns about the collaboration process.

      Contact Kim Mediation and Law Center for a consultation.