Why does divorce take so long?

Goldberg Jones Divorce Leave a Comment

The estimated time frame for a San Diego divorce is a topic we receive questions about almost daily. The amount of time between filing the initial paperwork and a finalized judgment can vary significantly. This variation makes calculating an accurate average divorce length difficult. Because every divorce is unique, there are numerous factors that will affect the amount of time it can take for your divorce to be finalized. Here are a few of the most common issues that will slow down the divorce process.

  • What is the California waiting period?

    In the state of California there is a six month waiting period that is required for all parties seeking to dissolve their marriage. This six month waiting period is the minimum amount of time that it will take to restore your marital status to single. Unless they are uncontested and amicable, most divorces will take longer than 6 months.

  • Custody disputes

    When children are involved, disagreements about custody, child support and visitation need to be sorted out. If both parties cannot agree on the terms of the parenting plan, then additional negotiations, and often time mediation, become necessary. The more complex the situation is and stubborn the parties involved are, the longer the divorce process. Custody disputes can often require investigations (see below).

  • Division of property

    Having assets and property to divide can slow down the divorce process. If you and your spouse easily agree on who gets what, drafting the final divorce papers can be expedited. Conversely, if nothing can be agreed upon then the division of property can mire your divorce in contested negotiations.

  • Representing yourself

    Known as “pro se”, self representation can slow down your divorce. The process of dissolving a marriage requires a significant amount of filling out and filing of paperwork. Many divorce forms can be complicated and if not filed correctly they can cause a bottleneck in the divorce proceeding. Incorrectly filled out, incomplete, and incorrect forms can necessitate important court appearances to be rescheduled and significantly slow the progress of your divorce.

  • Investigations

    It is not uncommon for a divorce to require a period of discovery and investigation. The two most common areas requiring an investigation are parenting evaluations and valuing assets. The parenting evaluation will be required for a number of reasons including (but not limited to): concerns about child abuse, substance abuse, mental health problems, one parent wants to move out of state and the other parent objects, or an inability to agree on a parenting plan. Investigations can also become necessary when large or complicated assets, like a business or a complex investment portfolio, need to be divided. In a business valuation both parties will hire independent firms to appraise the value of the company in question. This appraisal process can be lengthy and the divorce cannot proceed until a conclusion has been reached by both parties.

Divorce is not a speedy process. It takes time and diligence to negotiate the terms of your divorce. The list above includes some of the factors that can delay the divorce process. But the rule of thumb when estimating how long your San Diego divorce will take is: the more complex your situation, the longer your divorce— and if you have an obstinate soon-to-be ex, that will further delay the progress of your divorce. Having an experienced and knowledgeable attorney guiding you through the legal process will be an invaluable resource for finalizing your divorce quickly and equitably.

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