In Santa Clara County, as throughout the rest of the state, there is a six-month waiting period for couples who want to get a divorce. The concept of the waiting period seems straightforward enough, but it is just one element of family law that highlights how confusing the different rules surrounding divorce are. The laws regarding the waiting period are very nuanced, and will have a significant impact on your case. As such, it is important that anyone considering ending their marriage understands the law around the waiting period.
When Does the Waiting Period Start?
Most states have a waiting period for divorce and in many of these, the clock on the waiting period starts ticking the day one spouse files for divorce. This is not true in California. In The Golden State, the waiting period for divorce begins on the day the other spouse is served with the divorce papers and summons, or when the other spouse makes an appearance, whichever happens first.
If you file for divorce in Santa Clara County, you must serve your spouse with the divorce documents and necessary response forms. Many people choose to hire a process server (or third party) to personally delivery the documents to your spouse. You can also serve your spouse through the mail with notice and acknowledgement of receipt to avoid personal service.
There are many actions your spouse may take that constitute “making an appearance.” For example, if your spouse files a response to the divorce paperwork, that could constitute making an appearance. The six-month waiting period would then start on the date your spouse filed the response.
The Waiting Period Can Be Extended, but Not Shortened
The California statutes allow for the waiting period during divorce to be extended, but not shortened. If a spouse can show that there is good cause to extend the six-month waiting period, a judge can extend it. Additionally, a judge may also set a future date for terminating the marriage. As with nearly every other aspect of the divorce process, couples can also agree to extend the waiting period. However, in no circumstances can a judge shorten it.
Termination of Marital Status
Many people assume that once the six-month waiting period is over, their status as a married couple is automatically terminated. That is not always the case. Couples often still have issues to resolve after the six-month mark and the case is not considered final until a judge has issued a judgment terminating the marital status. On the other hand, in some instances, a judge will terminate marital status before terms such as property division matters are settled, with resolution taking place after the termination. This is called a Status Only Judgment. It essentially says, we want to be legally single, but the specific terms of our asset division or financial issues is not quiet resolved.
Our Divorce Lawyers in Campbell Can Help with Your Case
If you are getting a divorce, our Campbell divorce lawyers at Hepner & Pagan, LLP can advise on when the waiting period in your case will expire, and on every other aspect of your case. Call us now at 408-688-9153 or reach out to us online to schedule a consultation with one of our seasoned attorneys.