To file for divorce in California, there is only one real requirement that you must meet: you have to already be married first. Generally, you can get divorced almost as soon as you get married – if you want to – but there are a few other requirements and legal issues that could delay your divorce. Our Ventura divorce lawyers explain how long after getting married you have to wait before you can file for divorce and have a divorce finalized. If you need help with your divorce case or more information about filing for divorce and how long the divorce case takes, call the Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth to schedule a free legal consultation with our Santa Barbara divorce attorneys.
How Long After Marriage Can I Get Divorced?
California law makes marriage accessible to many people that the laws of other states would stop from getting divorced. Generally, you do not need to allege fault to get married. Instead, you claim that there are “irreconcilable differences” that prevent you and your spouse from staying together. This means that you do not need to wait for abuse to start or an affair to begin before you file for divorce – you could conceivably file for divorce as soon as the marriage is official. However, there are some potential delays you could face.
To get divorced in California, you must show that a court has jurisdiction over your case. Even if you were married in another state, you can get divorced in California – but at least one of you must be a resident of California to use its courts. To meet California’s residency requirements, you or your spouse must be a resident of California for at least 6 months before you can file for divorce here. You or your spouse must also be a resident of the county you are filing in for at least 3 months before filing. This means that if you and your spouse just moved to California or just moved into a home in a new county, you may need to wait 3 months before meeting residency requirements in your county and 6 months before meeting residency requirements in the state.
Fortunately, only one spouse needs to meet the requirements. This means that if you moved to California to move in with your spouse who has lived there a long time, you can use your spouse’s residency to file in a California court.
Another delay comes from the waiting period in California. Every California divorce case has a 6-month waiting period before the court can finalize your divorce. This means that even if you file for divorce the same day you were married, the soonest you can get divorced is 6 months after the wedding.
During this 6-month period, you and your spouse can work on agreements to come to terms in an “uncontested divorce.” These divorces usually work quickly if both parties can agree to terms and present their agreement to a judge for approval after the 6-month waiting period. If the judge approves your agreement, you can have your divorce granted right away after the waiting period.
Problems with Divorcing Soon After Marriage
Since a divorce in California is based on “irreconcilable differences,” the court may be skeptical if you get divorced so soon after getting married. However, irreconcilable differences can arise even in short marriages. In some cases, people get married after a long relationship, potentially under the impression that getting married will “fix” their problems. Couples may file for divorce quickly if they realize that the marriage was a mistake or that it does not fix their problems, and it is quite possible that the couple may have truly irreconcilable differences soon after marriage. Still, judges may be skeptical that a relationship could fall apart so quickly after it begins, and your attorney may need to help you convince the court that you truly need the divorce.
If you do divorce quickly, the court may suspect that there is another motive behind the divorce. Especially if you or your spouse recently immigrated to the United States and has a green card, courts and federal agencies may suspect that your marriage was fraudulently used to get the green card. Similarly, marriages with quick divorces could be used as fraud for tax benefits, healthcare coverage, and other improper purposes. Talk to a lawyer about avoiding these kinds of issues.
Filing for Quick Divorce through Summary Dissolution in California
In some cases, you may be able to file for “summary dissolution” which gets your case finalized more quickly. In a summary dissolution, you still must wait 6 months before the divorce is finalized. However, a summary dissolution is a bit faster because you file paperwork with the court and it is approved behind the scenes without having to present yourself before a judge.
To qualify for summary dissolution, you must meet the following requirements:
- You are married for under 5 years
- You don’t have kids
- You don’t own a house
- You have under $41,000 in property
- You owe less than $6,000 in car loans and other debts
There are other requirements you must meet as well to take advantage of this kind of quick divorce. Talk to a lawyer if you need help filing the paperwork or understanding if you qualify for summary dissolution.
Getting a Marriage Annulled in California
If you are trying to end your marriage soon after getting married, you may qualify for an annulment. Annulments are different from divorces because instead of simply ending the marriage, an annulment undoes the marriage entirely. Typically, people qualify for annulments if they realize that they should not have legally qualified to get married in the first place, and an annulment reverses the marriage. Typically, people qualify for annulments in California based on the following grounds:
- You find out you were related to your spouse
- You find out you or your spouse was already married (or still married after abandonment)
- Either spouse was under 18
- Either party wasn’t mentally fit to consent to marriage
- The marriage was based on fraud
- Either party was forced into marriage
- Either party was physically unfit to consummate the marriage
Unfortunately, there are no grounds to simply undo a marriage if you made a mistake or regret your decision – however, marriages that take place while either spouse was intoxicated or high can typically be annulled.
A marriage does not automatically end because you qualify for an annulment. Instead, you need to go to court and have the marriage officially nullified. Talk to a lawyer for help understanding annulment and how to qualify for an annulment in California.
Call Our Ventura Divorce Attorneys for a Free Legal Consultation
If you are considering getting divorced soon after getting married in California, talk to an attorney about your case. California’s residency requirements and waiting period laws may delay your divorce for 6 months to a year after your wedding date. If you want to file for separation in the meantime or think you might qualify for summary dissolution or annulment, talk to our Ventura family law attorneys about your case. For a free legal consultation on your divorce case, call the Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth today at (805) 643-5555.