How Long After Mediation Will My CA Divorce Be Finalized? A Complete Guide

If you’re a Californian opting for mediation and wondering how long it’ll take for your divorce to be finalized, then you’re in the right place.

Mediation is the collaborative and efficient approach to divorce. If you’re looking for information about the divorce process timeline, we can help. While every divorce is unique, we’ll explain all the important details that affect timing.

This article is your complete guide to the timeline of divorce mediation in California. After reading it, you’ll know exactly what to expect.

What is the normal waiting time for finalizing a divorce?

Getting a divorce in California takes at least six months due to the state’s mandatory waiting period. The spouses must:

  1. begin their divorce case;
  2. share their financial information;
  3. make decisions about marital property division, parenting time, child support, and spousal support agreements; and
  4. meet the waiting period.

For spouses who choose litigation, the time it takes to complete a divorce can involve longer waiting periods based on:

  • the complexity of the case;
  • the type of divorce;
  • the court system backlog; and
  • whether there are contested issues.

It can also require family law attorneys and high attorney fees.

Divorce mediation is the simpler option. Resolving disputes outside the court can save both time and costs.

Learn more about the costs of divorce in California.

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What is the timeline of CA divorces using mediation?

When you and your spouse agree on all issues in mediation, divorce can be completed in six months.

California divorce laws impose a minimum waiting period of six months between the date the petition is filed and the date the divorce is finalized. This means you and your spouse can be divorced anytime after the six-month waiting period (plus one day).

The divorce mediation process looks like this:

1. Filing for divorce

In mediation, a neutral petition is filed so no one has to be served and conflict is minimized. This allows you and your spouse to begin your process respectfully and collaboratively.

2. Free consultation

You and your spouse will choose a mediator and schedule your free 1-hour consultation to learn more about what you can expect in mediation.

3. Gathering Information

Once you decide to move forward with mediation, your mediator will help you both gather the necessary documentation for your meetings, including:

  • account/policy numbers;
  • bank/retirement statements;
  • tax returns;
  • debts/loans;
  • etc.

4. Mediation meetings

You and your spouse will meet with your mediator to discuss issues such as:

  • Spousal support: This includes health insurance, housing, and other expenses.
  • Child custody arrangements: You can discuss joint custody or primary custody. You can also decide on a parenting schedule and agree on child support payments.
  • Asset division: This includes the division of marital property and community debts, or debts you and your spouse took on while married.

Each mediation meeting takes around 2–3 hours. The number of mediation meetings you need will depend on the complexity of your case.

During mediation, you and your spouse will each have a chance to speak and be heard. Your divorce mediator will guide the conversation and help you reach an acceptable divorce agreement.

An Aurit Center Certified Mediator can help you and your spouse have a more collaborative divorce. This makes the entire process easier for you, your spouse, and your kids.

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Once you and your spouse agree on all issues, your mediator will draft a Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA). The MSA outlines the agreed-upon solutions.

5. Finalization

The MSA and other documents will be filed with the court. You and your spouse may need to attend a brief court hearing at this stage, where the judge reviews the mediation agreement. But this is often unnecessary.

After the waiting period, the court issues a final judgment of dissolution. This officially ends the marriage.

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You and your spouse can move as quickly as possible if that is your goal, or you can take more time if needed. Importantly, you can choose mediation at any time during the divorce process, even if litigation has already begun.

Why might delays occur when finalizing a divorce?

Delays in completing your divorce can happen for several reasons:

  • disagreements or disputes: you and your spouse may need extra time to negotiate and solve complex issues. This is especially true if minor children are involved or you and your spouse have many marital assets. An expert mediator helps minimize conflict by listening to both sides. They help spouses reach mutually beneficial agreements;
  • scheduling challenges: coordinating your meetings around both schedules may be difficult. Sometimes, scheduling issues may require rescheduling, prolonging the process;
  • legal review and drafting: it can be challenging to ensure the MSA meets legal requirements and both spouses’ agreements. This becomes easier when you have a mediator since they can confirm what’s required legally and help you draft the document; or
  • unforeseen circumstances: unexpected issues, such as health or financial problems, can slow the process.

There are some simple ways to help avoid delays:

  • clear communication: focus on open and honest communication as much as possible. This will help you and your spouse reach agreement more easily;
  • be prepared: always come to mediation meetings with the information you need to share. Your mediator will use this information to understand your circumstance and help you reach creative agreements;
  • have a flexible schedule: be as flexible as possible so that you, your spouse, and the mediator can easily find times to meet. If time conflicts happen, you can reschedule your meetings quickly to avoid delays; and
  • hire a qualified mediator: Aurit Center Certified Mediators are experts who can facilitate productive discussions. They can help you reach an agreement that benefits both you and your spouse, allowing you to move forward peacefully.

Next steps with Aurit Mediation

The divorce process in California can be time-consuming due to the mandatory 6-month waiting period. With proper guidance from a mediator, it can become a much easier and less stressful process.

Schedule a free 1-hour consultation with The Aurit Center to meet with a mediator who will guide you through your divorce process with care.

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