How to Get a Quick Divorce in California
The decision to end a marriage is not an easy one. When most people decide to end their marriage they usually want the divorce process over with quickly; however, obtaining a quick divorce in California is not easy.
At a minimum, it takes six months and one day for a divorce to be finalized once the petition is served on the responding spouse. Most divorces take between a year and 18 months to finish. There is no way to shorten this six-month period, unless the couple opts for an annulment, which is only an option in very limited circumstances (e.g. bigamy, incest, mental incapacity, etc.). While the six-month waiting period cannot be shortened, there are ways to minimize the length of a divorce. Read on to learn more.
Obtain a Summary Dissolution for a Quick Divorce
One way to get “quick” divorce is to file for a summary dissolution. A summary divorce is a simplified process. To qualify, a couple must have been married for less than five years, have no children, have less than $6,000 in community debt (excluding auto loans), own no real property, have less than $38,000 in community assets, and both spouses must waive their right to spousal support. A summary divorce will expedite the process, but it will not shorten the six-month waiting period. The downside to a summary divorce is that either spouse can file a revocation for summary dissolution before the divorce is final, either because they want to switch to a regular divorce or they reconciled.
Enforce a Prenuptial Agreement for a Quick Divorce
Many couples do not qualify for a summary dissolution, but there are other ways to obtain a “quick” divorce. If both spouses agree on the terms of the divorce, the divorce can be settled quickly. One simple way to accomplish a quick resolution of issues is to have a prenuptial agreement. A detailed prenuptial agreement that has specific terms for the division of property and assets can expedite the divorce process considerably. However, a prenuptial agreement does not have a provision for child custody and child support (even if it did, a judge may decline to enforce those terms). If child custody or support issues become contested, the divorce proceeding may take longer than six months to finalize.
Quick Divorce Using Mediation or Arbitration
Mediation and arbitration are alternatives to a court proceeding that may expedite the process. In mediation, a neutral third party will review each spouses’ financial situation and talk with both spouses. The mediator will prepare a settlement that is consistent with California law. Typically, mediators are attorneys or retired judges who are experts in family law. The settlement a mediator prepares will be comparable to a settlement by a family court judge. A mediation settlement is not binding. One or both spouses can reject the proposed settlement. Before a case can go to mediation, both spouses must agree to mediation and agree on a mediator. Arbitration is a process similar to mediation. The difference between mediation and arbitration is that arbitration is binding, and the parties must accept the settlement decided by the arbitrator. A court will only accept an arbitration settlement if both parties agreed to the arbitration beforehand. Mediation and arbitration are cheaper alternatives to a court proceeding and are usually faster.
California One Day Divorce
Another way of obtaining a “quick” divorce in California is the “one-day” option, which is only available in certain counties, one of which is San Diego County. To obtain a “one-day” divorce, both spouses must agree on all of the divorce terms, neither spouse can have a lawyer, and the divorce must have been filed at least six months earlier. A couple can make an appointment for a “one-day” divorce where they will meet with a family law expert for anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours. The advantage of a “one-day” divorce is that once the meeting is over, the divorce will be final.
California does not have an option for a “quick” divorce that can finalized in a week or a month. A couple must wait at least six-months. However, there are plenty of ways to ensure that the divorce process only takes six months, and not longer.
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