Archive for August, 2017

How the Six-Month Waiting Period for Divorce Works in California

California Says, “Think Before You Leap”

California has what they refer to as a cooling-off period for couples seeking a divorce. The idea is that within the six-month timeframe people will have the ability to step back. They can look at the realities of what they are doing and then proceed with better information. The hope is that they will have a more informed plan of operation. The couple may even decide to reconcile. If divorce were instant, that would not be an option.

Unfortunately, the cooling off period does not always help couples to gain added insight into their marriage and divorce. By the time they hire attorneys, couples are not speaking to each other. They see legal fees mounting. Some even comment that they felt the pressure just to get it done because of the money spent.

The six-month waiting period is simply the earliest date at which a marriage can end. For those that are timing the divorce around the end of a year, you must be careful. The frame is six-months PLUS one day. Once the divorce is complete, both are free to marry or remain single.

Starting The Clock Toward Divorce

To launch the clock one person needs to file their petition with the court. The petition states that they are seeking a divorce from their spouse. Divorce filing is confusing.As part of the filing, there is also a process to serve papers on the other person. That is how the other spouse is informed of the action. It is the serving of the papers that start the clock moving. In movies and shows, this is the dramatic point where someone ominous walks up to the unsuspecting person. They suddenly shove papers at the unsuspecting spouse with the announcement that they are served.

That is really for the drama of a show. In fact, the service of papers can happen in many ways. To see the detailed overview of the process, you can visit the San Diego County Court web site. The basics are that you cannot do this yourself and you may want to talk to an advocate, lawyer or legal service about this process.

How The Timing Works Out

For example, if a petition for divorce is filed on June 1st, and documents are served on the other person the same day, the six-month waiting Reading divorce papersperiod and earliest termination date of the marriage would be December 2nd. But if they wait until July 1st to serve the papers, the soonest the marriage will end would be January 2nd of the following year.

So if someone wants to end the marriage as soon as possible, and tax filings are an issue, they need to watch the timing. The anxious spouse needs to have the other person served in a timely manner that meets the targeted deadlines.

You need to remember that wanting to end the marriage in six months does mean it will happen that way. The other spouse may have other thoughts. That is why we recommend One Last Look as a way to get both sides working for the same goal.

The “What” & “How” of Serving Papers

The person who is serving the papers must be at least 18 years old and not involved in the case. The person will have to fill out a Proof of Service form telling what they gave (served) to the other person. There is also a chance, if this goes to court, that the individual who served the papers might have to appear and testify when and how the papers were served.

The link above will let you learn more about details for the following forms of service.

  • Personal Service
  • Substitute Service
  • Service by Mail
  • Notice and Acknowledgement of Receipt
  • Service by Publication or Posting
  • There are also processes for serving people living outside of California as well as someone that may be incarcerated.

The court requires service so that everyone involved is aware that the divorce process is happening and it allows both sides the opportunity to respond or take whatever legal actions they deem necessary.

If there is a change of heart during this period, even if a final judgment has already been entered and a date for the marriage to end has been set (but that end date has not yet occurred), the couple can file for a dismissal. The action has the effect of terminating the case (referred to by the court as extinguishing the pending termination). Of course, it takes both sides to agree to this.

Be careful as you move through this process. Errors in filing can result in the entire case potentially being invalidated.

Armand & Robbin D’Alo