According to its latest Court Statistics Report, the state of California saw nearly 112,000 filings for divorce, legal separations, and annulments in 2023. That total has lowered over the past few years, but so has the state’s case clearance rate: California courts used to clear about 90% of marital filings each year, but only 65% were cleared in 2023. 

Attorney Holly J. Moore has encountered the trend in her practice; where the “average” divorce used to take between 12 and 18 months, her more recent cases are approaching 36-month timeframes between filing and disposition. 

With that said, Moore has seen the toll that a lengthy pendency can take on various clients and their families, and in turn, she offers many suggestions and strategies for managing the stress and navigating the time spent waiting for the completion of a divorce. 

What Happens in a Divorce? 

Understanding why divorces take so long requires first knowing the purpose of a divorce, and that is to dissolve a marriage. In other words, the two married partners will have the legal status of single once the proceedings conclude. 

Before dissolving a marriage, the court must tie up all of the loose ends and outstanding issues pertaining to it. Four common issues include the following: 

In an uncontested divorce, spouses agree on the solution to all of these issues. However, if spouses disagree on just one of these matters, their divorce is deemed contested. The spouses will then agree to settle on any uncontested issues and only submit the contested issues to the judge.  

If there are no uncontested issues and the divorce is completely contested, each spouse’s lawyer will present their client’s side of the argument in court, and a judge will decide on the outcomes. 

Ways to Navigate the Waiting Game 

In many cases, you have the power to reduce the wait time for your divorce to clear. As you meet with your lawyer to discuss the matter, keep in mind that dissolution is often the best solution for a broken marriage; it gives you a fresh start instead of endlessly repeating the same disagreements for the rest of your life. 

As such, you should try to finish the process as quickly as possible while still obtaining a fair outcome. Speak with your lawyer early on to set reasonable expectations concerning the length of the divorce proceedings and what you should expect afterward. 

For instance, you may face issues regarding where you will live and how you will earn a living after your marriage ends. These may seem daunting, but you must address them as they arise to set yourself up for success after the final divorce decree. 

Once you know what to expect, you can consider ways through which to use your knowledge to cut down on the pendency of your divorce, such as: 

Alternative Dispute Resolution 

If you and your significant other trust each other enough to communicate directly or through an intermediary, you can turn to mediation.  

A mediator will not try to solve problems or propose solutions but instead work to help both partners find common ground by means of communicating about at least some of the matters between them, such as who will get the house, how their debts will be split, and parenting plans. 

Focus on Important Issues and Letting Insignificant Issues Go 

Divorces effectively wrap up everything involved in a marriage. With that said, it’s important to understand that while some of these matters are important, others will not matter much after the divorce. Therefore, it’s best to work to avoid fights over unimportant issues now to avoid exhausting your resources on insignificant battles later. 

Ms. Moore uses the 5-5-5 Rule to help clients understand the gravity of their concerns: Those that will not matter five minutes from now are unimportant; issues that will only matter for five months are still relatively minor; things that will affect you and your children’s lives for more than five years, though, are what deserve immediate focus. 

Talk to a Lawyer About Your Concerns 

Your lawyer is an important source of information regarding how long your divorce will take, and they are also someone to turn to for creative solutions that may speed up the process based on prior experience. Discuss the pendency of your divorce by contacting Moore Family Law Group today. 


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