2024 How to Get a Quick Divorce in California

California divorces follow a general timeline but each divorce is unique.

January 25, 2024

The divorce process is often viewed as lengthy, costly, and complicated, with all divorces in California needing to take a minimum of six months. There really is no “quick” divorce, as it is rather uncommon. However, with the help of an experienced divorce attorney, you can understand the divorce process as well as how to accelerate it. That way, you can avoid any further complications and allow both parties to move on in a faster, safer way.

Conveniently, filing for divorce is only a few steps, but the process can be lengthy without taking some measures to ensure that the matter is settled quickly. It’s important to discuss how the divorce process works in your area with an experienced lawyer. Generally, the divorce process is as follows:

Contact a Lawyer as Soon as Possible

The first thing you’ll want to do to start a divorce is contact a trusted lawyer. You need to find one who fits your needs, as divorce lawyers may focus on slightly different areas of family law, such as child custody.

During your initial meeting, you can discuss the context of the divorce, along with information about yourself and your spouse, to provide added context to your attorney. This is crucial to building a solid claim, and your attorney needs as much information about the situation as possible.

In any following meetings, you will usually fill out a series of legal documents, including a “Petition to Divorce” and a “Summons.”

Both documents serve as a means of notification to your spouse. A summons is a notice to your spouse that you have filed for divorce, and they have 30 days to respond. A petition to divorce is a notice of request that includes a list of factual reasons why a divorce is being filed.

Serve Your Spouse and Present the Court With Divorce Papers

After you’ve filled out both a petition and a summons for divorce, you need to have your spouse presented with these documents and show your claim to a judge. When you have filed a petition and a summons, you will usually go to court to explain the grounds for divorce as well as provide any other information to a judge.

Serving a spouse involves delivering the petition and the summons, thus informing them of the situation. This can be done by anybody over the age of 18 who isn’t you or anybody else involved in the divorce.

Serving a spouse with divorce papers can sometimes be difficult, especially if that spouse does not wish to be found or is extremely resistant to the idea of divorce.

One of the most successful ways to prevent this is to discuss it beforehand. That way, you can have a mutual understanding and agreement that a divorce is needed.  Blindsiding your spouse with divorce papers that they do not understand is one of the worst ways to make a divorce drag on for months at a time.

Response and Disclosure

After your spouse has been served, they are allowed time to officially respond to the divorce within 30 days. Typically, this involves a hearing with the judge, which allows them to fully explain their side of the story as well as serve you and/or your attorney with their official response forms.

Much like serving your spouse with divorce papers, one of the most successful ways to reduce the amount of time that your divorce will take is to discuss it with them first. California allows 30 calendar days to respond to a divorce, and the most successful way to avoid waiting the full 30 days is to have them respond immediately.

Following the response comes disclosure. This involves both parties opening themselves up to full disclosure of any assets that they own, including property, finances, and any other assets.

Often, there are disputes over which party has ownership over certain assets, so it’s highly advised that you provide any physical proof of ownership to the court, as this can prevent spending time on these disputes.

Trial or Settlement

Following your spouse’s response and disclosure proceedings, one of two events can occur. The first and most common event is a trial. This involves both parties presenting evidence to the judge over ownership of assets and making their case as to who should receive what. These proceedings can take weeks to go through. If a speedy divorce is required, it’s advised to avoid a trial at all.

The other, quicker method is settlement. Typically, through mediation outside of court, a settlement can be worked out when both parties reach a mutual agreement as to how to divide assets. This is often the fastest way to achieve a divorce, and why it’s important to have as much proof of ownership as possible.


After a settlement has been reached, either through a trial or mediation, a judge will sign a decree called a Judgment and a Notice of Entry of Judgement. As soon as these are received, you are divorced. This process typically takes at least a few weeks to process and cannot be further accelerated.


Q: What Is the Quickest Way to Get a Divorce in California?

A: The quickest way to get a divorce in California is by coming to a pre-trial agreement. This is usually done when it’s mutually agreed that a divorce is needed between both partners and they can fairly divide assets amongst themselves. It’s crucial to discuss getting a divorce before filing for one, as any unforeseen factors may cause a divorce dispute to occur, which might make proceedings go on for a considerable amount of time.

Q: What’s the Shortest Amount of Time That a Divorce Can Take in California?

A: The absolute shortest amount of time that a divorce can take in California is six months. Even if both parties managed to perform all the steps of processing a divorce within the same week, it takes a minimum of six months for divorces to be finalized. This is California law and generally cannot be reduced further, except in extreme cases.

Q: Are There Different Kinds of Divorce?

A: Yes, there are three different kinds of divorce. There are contested, uncontested, and defaulted divorces. Whether your divorce is contested or uncontested depends on whether a written agreement is put in place before a trial. Contested divorces also typically end in a trial. Defaulted divorces are the result of the other spouse either not responding to a petition to divorce or to being served. From here, divorce proceedings move as normal, usually without the participation of the spouse, even if there is no written agreement.

Q: How Fast Is an Uncontested Divorce in California?

A: An uncontested divorce in California is only as fast as both parties let it be. An uncontested divorce is often the result of a mutual divorce, where both parties can divide assets amongst themselves fairly easily. This process could take as little as a few days to upwards of a month to fully divide their lives, including finances, child care, and property. Even in an uncontested divorce, the process will still take a minimum of six months due to California’s waiting period.

Contact a California Divorce Attorney

If you’re looking to have your divorce processed as soon as possible, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced California divorce attorney at the Law Offices of Hollie A. Lemkin today. We offer 20 years of experience and the support you need in this difficult time. We can help you file all the necessary documents, achieve the fairest settlement, and represent you so that your divorce can be finalized as quickly as possible.

Contact our team at the Law Offices of Hollie A. Lemkin today.

Call today to speak with Hollie A. Lemkin to discuss your questions & issues!


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