How long will my divorce take?

In California the minimum wait for a divorce is six (6) months following the date upon which either you or your spouse is “served” with divorce paperwork. In nearly all of our cases, this six-month date is our clients' actual divorce date. If you litigate your divorce (i.e., you and your spouse battle it out), it will likely take much longer than six months to reach agreement, and your divorce date will be the date upon which the Court approves your final settlement.

The six-month date we referenced above is the final divorce date in most instances. Depending on the backlog at any particular courthouse, it is not unusual for us to receive a final divorce decree weeks (if not months) before the six-month wait has expired. If this happens, the Court has indicated that all of the terms of a divorce have been approved, but the divorce date is still several weeks (or months) away. For example, if we receive your divorce decree back from the courthouse three (3) months after either you or your spouse is “served” with divorce paperwork, your final divorce date will be in another three (3) months.

What is the significance of the minimum wait of six months for a divorce?

Beyond the important emotional implication of being officially divorced, the six-month wait has a few implications:

Taxes : The six-month divorce date can have an effect on your tax filing status. The IRS and the Board of Equalization are concerned about your tax status on the last calendar day of the year. In other words, if your six-month divorce date occurs on or before the last day of the year, your tax status will either be “single” or “head of household.” The appropriate status typically depends on whether you have children or not. Conversely, if you aren't divorce by the end of the year, your tax status will typically either be “married filing jointly” or “married filing separately.”

Medical Coverage : Under the terms of most employer-sponsored medical plans, you or your spouse may cover each other until the date of divorce, but not afterward. COBRA coverage is available to a spouse who has lost access to his or her former spouse's employer-sponsored coverage due to divorce.

Do I really have to “sue” my spouse for divorce (or vice versa)?

Yes, we think this is crazy, but under existing California law, either you or your spouse must literally sue the other one of you for divorce. In uncontested case, this need not be as offensive as it sounds. While one of you has to act as “Petitioner” and initiate a case, the distinction of who initiates your case has no real legal significance in an uncontested case. Unfortunately, the fact that a divorce has to be structured as a lawsuit is one reason that so much paperwork is required to obtain a divorce in California.

Do you support divorce mediation?

Yes, we love mediation, and we can't recommend the desirability of mediating over “lawyering up” strongly enough. Of course, if you and your spouse agree on the terms of your divorce, no mediation is required. That being said, if you do require the services of a mediator to reach a settlement, we can certainly refer you to a professional who can help.

When you say your Marital Separation Agreements are “attorney reviewed,” what do you mean, and why should that matter to me?

In our case “attorney reviewed” means that an attorney actually reads and reviews every single divorce decree that we send to the courthouse. This may not seem like a big deal – but trust us – it is. Family law is overly complicated (in our opinion) and there are dozens and dozens of ways in which an inexperienced but well-meaning document preparer can misstep and incorrectly prepare a draft Marital Separation Agreement. The terms “attorney prepared” and “attorney drafted” are often abused in the document preparation field. This typically means that an attorney generated a boilerplate agreement years ago, and a computer program then inserts personal data into the form. Don't be fooled – in these cases an attorney has absolutely nothing to do with the final paperwork.

You cost more than several other online divorce services. Why shouldn't we go with a cheaper alternative?

To answer this question, it helps to understand how we got started. The field of “document preparation” is poorly regulated at best. We are familiar with the work-product of most (but not all) online document preparation services in California, and after years of helping clients of other services complete their divorces, we decided we could do better. Yes, we are more expensive, but for good reason. Every member of our staff earned his or her stripes in a family law practice, and we produce exceptional Marital Separation Agreements for a fraction of the cost of obtaining a similar result from divorce attorneys (or even most reputable brick and mortar document preparation services, for that matter).

If we have questions, can we speak with someone on the phone?

Absolutely. In fact, our customers have the opportunity to speak with an experienced divorce attorney with hundreds of cases under his or her belt. Who better to answer your questions that someone who actually understands California law and the filing process? That being said, attorneys are expensive! We keep costs for our clients reasonable by only scheduling calls with existing clients. Once you have create a DivorceGuru profile and paid for our services, you will have the option of scheduling a 30-minute phone consultation with an attorney, or if you prefer, with another member of our staff.

I have a million other questions. Where can I find answers?

We've got you covered. Our book California Divorce Explained will likely answer the vast majority of your questions. We did our best to make a complex subject readable when we wrote it. If California Divorce Explained doesn't answer your question and you have signed up for our services, you are welcome to ask as many questions are you like during your phone consultation with an attorney.