If you have done a bit of research into getting divorced in California, you may have heard about the 6-month cooling-off period. It can be a bit confusing to understand because it doesn’t mean that you can’t start the divorce process before 6 months. It just means you cannot be officially divorced before that time. We know that it can be a bit difficult to visualize what it looks like in the normal process of divorce mediation, so we are happy to explain! If you have any specific questions about how the 6-month cooling-off period may impact your divorce, make sure to contact us!
When Does the 6-Month Cooling-Off Period Begin?
The 6-month cooling-off period begins as soon as the other party is served with the divorce petition. We are able to serve the other party within mediation. There is no need to serve the party using a process server unless there are specific circumstances that may be necessary. For most couples going through mediation, the filing of the petition is done after the first session, and the other party is served in the second session. If there is a time concern, we can arrange for the other party to be served as soon as we receive the filed petition back from the court.
Can I Get Divorced Before 6-Months If Both Parties Agree?
Unfortunately, no. You cannot become officially divorced until after the 6 months are over. However, you can completely finish your mediation and all the paperwork for your divorce well before the period is up. For couples who want to get through mediation as fast as possible, we simply date the final judgment to be six months from the date of service. So while you aren’t officially divorced until that date, there is no more work to do after you complete mediation, sign your marital settlement agreement, and submit your final paperwork to the court. You will receive your final judgment back, stamped by the judge, and then you are officially divorced as of that date.
How Fast Can Divorce Mediation Go?
As most legal answers begin, it really depends. Some couples who have simple divorces can be done within one or two sessions. This is typically the case if both parties are on the same page with most topics and decisions. If children are involved or have complex assets or debts that need to be divided, it is more common for couples to need three, four, five, or more sessions. While we are at the mercy of the court’s timing, it is possible to get done with all the paperwork within a few months. For complex dissolutions or high-conflict cases, divorce mediation can take a year or more. On the whole, people find that divorce mediation is much faster and inexpensive when compared to litigation.
If you have questions about the 6-month cooling-off period, contact West Coast Family Mediation Center to schedule your free virtual consultation online.