Divorce timeline

Proactively Managing Your Divorce Timeline

May 20, 2024

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When starting a divorce, proactively managing your timeline is essential for a smoother process. In this guide, we’ll explore strategic ways to proactively manage the intricacies of your divorce timeline, focusing on the standard dissolution process in California.

Understanding the Standard Divorce Timeline:

Before delving into strategies, it’s crucial to understand the key stages of divorce. Most individuals in California undergo a standard dissolution, though some may qualify for a summary dissolution (click to read more about summary dissolution), each divorce type following distinct timelines.

1. Filing: Initiating the Process and Starting Your Divorce Timeline

Filing your divorce marks the beginning of your journey. However, the timeline can vary based on courthouse procedures. Some allow for immediate counter filing, while others require electronic filing, impacting processing times.

2. Service of Petition: Navigating Legal Requirements

Serving the petition and initial papers to the other party is a crucial step, often time-consuming, especially if the other party is challenging to locate or is dodging service.

3. Mandatory Financial Disclosures: Ensuring Compliance and Transparency

Within 60 days of initiating your case, mandatory financial disclosures must be made. While this deadline exists, many people find that complexities often extend this particular divorce timeframe.

4. Discovery and Motion Work: Uncovering Essential Information

Engaging in discovery processes, such as interrogatories, and motion work, like requests for child custody determination, can prolong the timeline significantly. With most discovery tasks taking thirty to forty-five days at a minimum, and most motion work (also called a “request for order”) spanning three to six months on average.

5. Mandatory Mediation or Settlement Conference: Seeking Out-of-Court Resolutions

Before trial, parties typically attend mediation or a settlement conference, aimed at facilitating resolution outside the courtroom, though it may add months to the timeline.

6. Trial: The Final Stage of Managing Your Divorce Timeline

If mediation fails, the case proceeds to trial. Trial timelines vary based on the issues involved, court availability, and scope of proceedings.

Strategies for Proactively Managing Your Divorce Timeline:

To streamline your divorce timeline, consider the following proactive strategies:

– Start gathering financial documents early to expedite mandatory disclosures (you can even gather this information before you start your divorce).

– Embrace negotiation and mediation opportunities at any stage.

– Maintain proactive engagement throughout your case to keep it moving forward.

– Opt for narrowing the scope of trial issues to expedite proceedings.


Proactively managing your divorce timeline is crucial for a smoother journey. By understanding the process’s nuances and implementing strategic approaches, you can navigate your divorce with greater ease and efficiency.  If you want to know more, listen to the podcast, or watch the video.

In the next entry, we’ll delve deeper into how your choices impact your divorce timeline and offer additional insights for making informed decisions throughout the process.

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As a trial lawyer with fifteen years of experience, I can teach you how to think like a divorce lawyer, and I can teach you everything you need to know to navigate the divorce legal system in California.

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