The divorce process varies depending on the state in which it takes place. In California, a divorce can take a few months to a few years to finalize. It all depends on the spouses, the issues involved, and the complexity of the marital estate. 

For example, if you qualify for a summary dissolution, you could finalize your divorce in six months after filing all required paperwork. Dissolution is another word for divorce. 

However, you could face a long, costly legal battle if your divorce is contested. Some high-net-worth divorces have taken years to finalize. 

Regardless of the type of divorce case you file or the duration of the divorce proceedings, your divorce is not finalized until the court issues a divorce decree. A divorce decree is a court order that formally and legally ends a marriage. The divorce decree contains all information related to the terms of the divorce, including:

The divorce decree is the final judgment from the family court. Even though a divorce decree finalizes your divorce, it does not mean the divorce decree cannot be changed.

In some cases, parts of the divorce decree could be modified. For example, child custody might be altered, or the amount of spousal support could decrease. A party would need to file a petition or motion with the family court seeking a modification of the divorce decree.

Rarely does a court modify the actual divorce. Once a divorce is finalized, the marriage ends. There would have to be a compelling reason for a court to find that the parties were still married. 

What Should You Do After Your Divorce Is Finalized?

Even though you have a final divorce decree and your divorce is final, it does not mean you are finished with your divorce checklist. Steps to take after finalizing your divorce include:

  • Read the divorce decree to ensure you understand all terms of the divorce. Then, create a list of steps the court requires you to take and the deadlines for completing those steps.
  • Close joint credit card accounts and open new credit card accounts in your name only.
  • Order copies of all three credit reports. Review the reports and advise the agencies of mistakes involving your spouse’s legal debts.
  • Change the beneficiaries on your life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and other financial accounts. Confirm whether you must maintain a life insurance policy naming your ex-spouse or children as beneficiaries while your children are minors.
  • Create new estate planning documents, including a Will, power of attorney, and Healthcare Directive.
  • Change titles to vehicles and homes when the divorce decree grants sole ownership to one spouse.
  • Change the passwords to all accounts, even accounts you do not think your ex-spouse had access to before the divorce.
  • Open a new bank account in your name only and close joint bank accounts.
  • Update your emergency contact lists.
  • Change your last name on all official documents if you are resuming your maiden name.

After going through a divorce, it is also important to take care of yourself. The divorce process can be stressful and draining. It could take some time to recover from the experience.

Counseling and therapy help many people deal with their emotions and the changes they experience transitioning to a new phase in their lives. Prioritizing your physical health is also a priority. See your family doctor for a physical to address any health concerns.

Can I Make Finalizing My Divorce in California Faster?

The quickest divorce in California is a summary dissolution. However, you must wait at least six months after filing a petition with the court to obtain a final divorce decree.

Uncontested divorces can also be finalized in less than a year. When parties agree to the terms of the divorce, a settlement agreement can be filed with the court. The court can incorporate the settlement agreement into the final divorce decree to speed up the process.

Contested divorces take the longest to finalize, as the parties cannot agree on some of the terms involved. For example, they might argue about the amount of spousal support or whether assets are marital or separate property.

If the parties are willing to negotiate a divorce settlement, it can speed up the process of finalizing a divorce. Hiring an experienced San Diego can also speed up the divorce process because the forms can be completed quickly and without mistakes. Your attorney guides you through each step of the divorce process, protects your best interests, and works to finalize your divorce quickly with the desired outcome.

Contact Our Divorce Law Firm in San Diego, CA

Contact our experienced San Diego divorce lawyers at San Diego Divorce Lawyers, APC today for legal assistance. Contact our San Diego office at (619) 866-3756 to schedule a free consultation.

San Diego Divorce Lawyers, APC
2851 Camino del Rio S #430
San Diego, CA 92108