Most people know that the divorce waiting period in California is six months. However, many do not know what date the waiting period starts to run.
According to state law, the divorce waiting period starts to run from the date the divorce summons and petition is served on the respondent or the respondent makes an appearance, whichever comes first. An “appearance” is often the filing of a petition response; however, there are other ways for a respondent to “appear.” While appearing before a judge counts, it actually refers to a level of participation in the divorce. Simply put, just because the petitioner files for divorce, doesn’t mean the clock will start ticking.
Keep in mind, the California divorce waiting period doesn’t automatically end a marriage’s status at the six-month mark. On the contrary, a judge will not end a marriage and will not restore the parties to the status of unmarried individuals until a proper judgment is presented to the court and signed.
Additionally, a judge can extend the divorce waiting period to a later date for “good cause.” By contrast, a judge cannot shorten the waiting period to an earlier date prior to the six-month mark.