Mar. 2, 2021

Time Frame for Termination of Marriage

Filing a petition and having it served does not automatically result in a judgment. Other steps must be taken before a judgment will be entered.

The minimum length of time it takes to acquire a final Judgment of Dissolution in order to be free to marry once again is six months and one day from the date the Respondent is served with the Summons and Petition, or, six months and a day from the date the Respondent files a Response or Notice of General Appearance with the court, whichever comes first. If the six-month period passes before you are able to acquire your judgment, then the effective date of the dissolution is the date of entry of the judgment.

The effective date for legal separation or nullity is the day the judgment is entered, that is, the day the signed judgment is filed.

Be aware that a formal judgment signed by a judge must be filed and entered before it is final. A minute order from a hearing or a trial or a signed agreement without a judge's signature does not terminate the marriage.

How to file for a Divorce/Dissolution

It is strongly suggested that you consult with a family law attorney so that you are informed of your legal rights and the important legal issues in your case.

The basic alternatives available to you in obtaining legal assistance include one or more of the following:

  1. You may contact an attorney for legal advice or to represent you by looking in the telephone book.  Many attorneys have a reasonable fee for an initial consultation.
  2. You may represent yourself; however, it is suggested that you review reference materials (Family Codes and Code of Civil Procedure) available at the Yolo County Law Library and also read the Court's Local Rules.
  3. You may contact the Family Law Facilitator's Office for assistance.

Child Custody

Please, visit our Child Custody section for details.

Finalizing Your Divorce

Your marriage or domestic partnership does not automatically end six months after filing your petition.  You will need to complete your dissolution action and get your judgment either by default (when the other party does not respond), by written agreement, or by trial.

We highly recommended that parties consult with a family law attorney before finalizing a divorce.  There may be important legal rights regarding spousal support, pensions or other deferred compensation, or other property rights.  It is your responsibility to know your rights before you set your case for trial or you may lose those rights forever

The most common courses of action for various circumstances are:

  • If the other party did not respond ("defaulted"), then see an attorney to prepare a judgment, seek help from the Family Law Facilitator, or check the Yolo County Law Library for self-help manuals.
  • If you and your spouse or partner have an agreement on all issues (uncontested) in your divorce, you can have an attorney prepare your agreement and judgment or seek help in the Family Law Facilitator's Office.
  • If either of the following conditions pertain to your case, then it is suggested that you consult with an attorney: 
    1) your spouse or partner has filed a response, there are contested issues, and you have no written agreement; or 
    2) your spouse filed the divorce, you responded, and your spouse or your partner refuses to finalize your divorce whether or not there are contested issues.

The completed documents to finalize a divorce must be filed with the Civil Department at 1000 Main Street, Woodland, CA. You must include three (3) self-addressed stamped envelopes; two (2) for you and one (1) for your spouse.  Your documents will be submitted for approval and signature.  After it is signed, the clerk will process your judgment, complete the Notice of Entry of Judgment.  The Notice of Entry of Judgment will be mailed by the clerk to all parties.  This is your proof that your divorce is final.  It may take at least four to six weeks for the court to process the paperwork.  If you do not get a copy of the Notice of Entry of Judgment, contact the Court.  It is important that you keep this document as you may need proof of your dissolution at later times in your life.

The original judgment is kept in the court file. 

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