Like other states, California has a “waiting period” before a married couple can officially divorce. The state favors marriage as a matter of public policy. Therefore, a waiting or “cooling off” period is an opportunity for the couple to discuss their relationship and possibly save the marriage.

The cooling off period is six months. Even if the spouses agree that the six-month delay is unnecessary, it cannot be waived or modified by the court. The clock on the waiting period starts when the non-filing spouse is either officially served the divorce papers or files documents with the court.   

The mandatory cooling off period does not prevent a spouse from commencing a divorce action, it only bars the final dissolution of the marriage until the expiration of the six-month requirement. During this time, the parties can negotiate or settle the outstanding issues in the divorce and the court may then hold the final documents and orders until the period ends.

The statutory cooling off period applies only to divorces. With legal separations, the court can decide on many of the same issues litigated in divorces such as child custody, child support, spousal support, etc. Court orders made in a legal separation case are usually made on an interim basis. Separation orders have the same force and effect as any other decision of the court and parties may have their separation finalized without delay.

California also has divorce residency requirements. Residency is an entirely separate issue from the mandatory divorce cooling off period and the laws surrounding it are designed to prevent people from other states from relocating to California just for the purpose of getting divorced. Prior to filing a divorce action, one spouse must permanently reside in the State of California for at least six months. In addition, either spouse must reside within the county in which the divorce petition is filed for the prior three months.

Strategic Law Command in Roseville, CA provides a full array of family law services and helps clients who are going through divorce. The attorneys and the support staff have the knowledge, skills and experience to provide you with wise and practical guidance in difficult circumstances. If you have a family law or domestic relations legal issue, feel free to contact us or call 916-787-1234 for an initial consultation.