How long will it take for my divorce to be completed? A divorce is not a quick process. The soonest you can terminate your martial status in California is six months and one day after the Petition is filed and served on the other party. Other issues of the case can take a longer or shorter time to resolve. The timing of the resolution may depend upon the amount of information to gather, the emotional state of the participants, and the complexity of the issues to resolve. Collaborative Practice or mediation typical result in an agreement in weeks of months. In contrast, litigated cases can sometimes take up to a number of years to conclude. What is the difference between a “legal separation” and “divorce”? The main difference between obtaining a legal separation versus obtaining a divorce is that in as legal separation, you do not ask the court to terminate your martial status. Some parties choose to pursue a legal separation for personal reasons such as religious beliefs or health insurance concerns. They still, however, must complete the same process as parties undergoing a divorce (i.e. divide marital assets and debts) Do I ever have to appear in court? It is not necessary to appear in court if you reach an agreement. Once an agreement is reached, the Judgment, which sets forth the division of the parties’ property, support and parenting arrangements, can be submitted and approved by the court without a personal appearance. What is Collaborative Practice? Collaborative Practice is a new option for divorcing couples to resolve disputes respectfully without going to court. It promotes consideration and places the needs of children first and retains control of the process with the parties. In Collaborative Practice, each spouse retains his or her own attorney and the four work together in a cooperative series of 4-way team meetings that are non-adversarial. The team has as a goal meeting the mutual interest of a fair and equitable settlement, which addresses the interests and concerns of both parties, as well as their children. How do I help our children deal with this process? Talk with your children and be open and honest, without disparaging the other parent. Talking ill about the other parent in front of your children is harmful and will cause long term harm to your children and their relationships with you and the other parent.