How Long Until a California Divorce Settlement Submitted to the Judge Is Signed?

by Teo Spengler

"Serene, I fold my hands and wait." Poet John Burroughs offers good advice for divorcing spouses awaiting a judge's signature on a settlement agreement. Even if you prepared the document well and in accord with state requirements and local court rules, you may be in for a wait of several months in California.

Settlements Encouraged

California courts encourage divorcing spouses to work toward mutual settlements. When a couple agrees on the issues, everyone benefits, including the overcrowded court docket. To that end, courts offer divorce mediation; collaborative legal sessions, like meditation with attorneys present; and mandatory settlement conferences before trial.

Dotting "I"s and Crossing "T"s

Resolving big divorce issues is not easy, but writing up the agreement in the manner required by the court also requires time and care. Any error may result in the court returning the agreement to you for correction and resubmission; this means another long wait.

Child Support Considerations

California law establishes guidelines detailing how much a non-custodial parent should pay in child support depending upon the spouses' resources. Courts are obligated to award child support within the guidelines, unless the case meets one of the legal exceptions. Any agreement that deviates from the guideline amount is subject to particular scrutiny by the court.

Fluid Timing

After you submit the agreement to the court, all you can do is wait. The wait can range from a few weeks to a few months, depending upon the jurisdiction. The judge's clerk can often give you an idea of the expected wait.