Per California law, the time-period between filing for a divorce and finalizing it can be no less than six months and one day. Divorcing couples are often surprised to learn that due to a full and complex court system, divorces can take several months or years longer than expected to finalize.

Setting realistic expectations about how long your divorce will take to process is important to putting yourself on the road to recovery and to a happier life.

Court Delays are Common

Unlike fictional TV shows, court cases do not get solved overnight. The reality of the situation is that courts are very backed up with family law cases.

Keep in mind that divorce can be a very complicated matter, especially if there are children involved, complex finances, and a large amount of assets that need to be divided.  The entire process needs to go through the court system, which has its own policies, protocol and procedures to follow.

Operating Hours

The courts operate on business hours and realistically, only so many cases can be heard in a day.  When you keep in mind that some cases must be extended, the court system experiences even more delays.

Lunch Breaks

 The court breaks for lunch which shortens the day and can also cause your case to be postponed until after lunch or the next day.


 As a government agency, the court is closed for many holidays which can also frustrate the cause for a speedier closure to your case.

Paperwork Gets Lost

With human error being a reality, it’s not uncommon for paperwork to be lost or delayed which then extends your court date. Circumstances such as this are beyond your control, and it’s in your best interest to acknowledge they may be a factor in delaying your divorce date.

Full Calendar Schedule

The courts have a full calendar schedule, and cases are calendared months in advance. If your case needs to be continued, chances are, it’s going to fall months down the road.  While your case is important to you, it’s not going to be moved ahead of anyone else’s.

Your Attorney’s Availability

 Chances are, you are not your attorney’s only client.  You are at the mercy of their calendar which is often booked with other meetings or conflicts or personal time off.  If you need to add another court date to the calendar, it’s often at the availability of your attorney.

Emergency (ex parte) Orders

 In some instances, you may need to file emergency or ex parte orders. Even in the case of emergency restraining or temporary custody orders, the typical time period to wait is 48-72 hours. While you may see your need as an emergency, the fact is, the judge has to read over your motion and make a decision; yours is not the only emergency in the system and it may take longer than you expect.

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