In many states, lawmakers set limits on who can get divorced and when you can file for divorce.  In those states, many couples choose to go through a trial separation period before getting divorced.  In California, there is a waiting period to ensure that no one enters into a divorce rashly and that they have the time to reconsider their options and think through the divorce.  For many couples, this is a period of separation, but that is not necessary.  The Ventura divorce lawyers at the Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth discuss the 6-month waiting period in California divorce cases and how long you must be separated before you can get divorced in CA.

Does California have a Required Separation Period Before Divorce?

Many states have “no-fault” divorce options.  In these states, there may be options to get divorced without claiming adultery or abuse, but the law requires you to live “separately and apart” for a period of time before the court will grant your divorce.  Some states require a 2-year legal separation period before filing, while other states require an even longer period.  In some states with a waiting period, you can file for divorce as soon as you want, but the court will require you to live out the waiting period separately before they can grant the divorce.

In California, there is no required separation period before you can get divorced.  That means that you and your spouse are able to decide you want to get a divorce and, on the same day, file for divorce.  There is no requirement that you and your spouse live separately and apart before you file – and even after you file, you can still legally continue to live together.

However, just because there is no requirement to live separately does not mean that you necessarily should still live together either.  If you are going to get divorced, it is important to think about what the effects of the divorce will be: you and your spouse will move out of your shared home, split assets, divide savings accounts and investments, and start dividing child custody.  The date that you separate sets the end of shared finances, and it is important to work with a Ventura or Santa Barbara divorce attorney to determine when this date is and what financial effects that has on your case.

If you can, talk to a lawyer about forming a separation agreement and dividing your assets early in your divorce case.  This will not only help speed up your case, but it will help you begin severing your finances while you wait for the divorce to be finalized.

Do Divorces Have a Waiting Period in California?

Although California does not have a required separation period or trial separation period, it does have a waiting period for a divorce.  While you may file for divorce as soon as you want, you must still wait 6 months before your divorce is final.  No matter how quickly you move or how prepared you are to file your divorce case, California has a required 6-month waiting period before they will grant your divorce decree and finalize your divorce case.

Many couples move apart and begin living separately on the day they file their divorce petition.  This means that, for many couples, those 6 months are spent separated.  If you will be getting separated, you can actually submit a petition with the court for legal separation at the same time you file for divorce.  This allows you and your spouse to divide your assets immediately and start living as separate people – at least financially.

During a legal separation, you and your spouse will still be officially married.  This means that you cannot remarry and you may be required to share healthcare benefits with your spouse and file your taxes under the “married” status (e.g., “married filing separately”).  However, because you are filing for legal separation, you can separate out the other assets, debts, real estate, and other property you own.  You can also split child custody and determine child support and spousal support at the beginning of the 6-month waiting period instead of at the end.

Alternatively, since the 6-month period is just a waiting period and not a separation period, you can still live with your spouse.  It may be too expensive or inconvenient to move out or start sharing child custody in your case, and it might be simpler to stay in the same house and continue to live together during the waiting period.  Since there is no requirement that you and your spouse live “separate and apart,” you can continue to live in the same house and await your divorce date together.

Again, this has potential problems for your divorce case.  If you and your spouse file for divorce but continue to live together, the “date of separation” may be unclear.  Anything acquired during your marriage is community property that should be split 50/50 upon divorce.  That means it is important to know the date of separation to know if property was acquired “during the marriage” or after separation.  Talk to an attorney about drawing up a separation agreement to help determine when your “married” finances stop and your separated finances begin.

Call Our Ventura, California Separation Lawyers Today for a Free Consultation

If you are considering getting divorced in California, it is important to understand how California’s 6-month waiting period affects your case.  While you may not need to live separately during this period, many couples prefer to, and there can be confusing legal questions in your case if you do not set a clear date of separation.  For help with your case, call the Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth today to schedule a free legal consultation with our Ventura, CA family law attorneys.  Our phone number is (805) 643-5555.