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Complete Guide to Remarriage in California

It's common for people to enter new marriages when their former marriages end. In fact, 67% of people ages 55 to 64 are remarried. 

If you love married life, it's tempting to rush into a new relationship right away. But in California, you must wait to make things legal. 

You can't remarry in California until your divorce is finalized. And making a few mistakes during your split could extend your timeline and strain your new relationship. 

Here's what you need to know about finding new love in California – without breaking the law.

When can you get remarried in California?

You can enter a new relationship at any point during the divorce process. No laws prevent you from meeting someone, falling in love, and moving in together. But you can't formalize your relationship through marriage until the first marriage is no longer valid. 

Like most states, California doesn't allow bigamy. People can't have multiple legal spouses, even if they want to do so. If you try to get married before your first marriage is legally finished, you're committing bigamy.

So when is your marriage officially over? The following two scenarios exist:

  • If you participated in a divorce hearing or trial, a judge will sign your final documents. You will take them to the courthouse clerk to file them. At that point, your marriage is over. 
  • If you collaborated with your spouse and submitted your final documents without a hearing or trial, the judge will review and sign them. The clerk will file those documents and mail you a Notice of Entry of Judgment marked “filed.” The document will state when your divorce was finalized. 

Until you have a formal document in your possession, you can’t get remarried. If you try to file for a new marriage license, the clerk will see your married status or case in progress, and your application will be rejected. 

How long does a divorce take in California?

California laws mandate a six-month divorce cooling-off period. The count begins the day a person files divorce papers. While you can negotiate a fair settlement during this time, no court will finalize the documents until six months have passed. 

Your divorce could (and likely will) take much longer due to the following factors:

  • Strained staff members: Judges must sign off on all California divorces. A backlog of cases could mean you're stuck in limbo until a judge has time to review your documents and sign off on the case.
  • A mandatory hearing or trial: If you can't agree with your spouse on your marital settlement agreement, you must argue your case in court. A divorce trial is messy, expensive, and time-consuming. If you must go to court, expect the process to take much longer than if you solved things in mediation
  • Poor organization: The sooner you collaborate with your spouse, the better. You must understand your assets and debts, and you must collaborate on a fair split. If you delay these conversations, you may not be ready to sign your final documents when the six-month mark arrives. If you’d like to shorten the divorce timeline, act early to get organized.
  • Missing or uncooperative spouses: If you can't find your spouse or that person won't respond to your requests, you'll waste time trying to communicate. Without cooperation, the timeline for divorce is longer.

How can you keep your divorce on track?

Collaboration and cooperation are critical to short California divorces. People who agree can stay out of the courtroom, prepare their documents, and file easily. The documents they submit are clear and well-reasoned, so judges approve them easily. 

The process still takes six months, but it is more efficient than a hard battle between people who disagree. If there are unresolved matters, the timeline for divorce can stretch out significantly.

If your early conversations with your spouse aren't helpful, consider mediation. Hire a professional to guide you through difficult decisions, such as asset/debt splits and child custody arrangements. Use these sessions during your waiting time, so you can be ready when the six-month mark hits to move things forward. 

Remember that your partner is important to your future marriage plans. Be open, honest, and humble when you collaborate. Don’t get caught up in exacting revenge. It will only hurt you. As hard as it might be, you'll emerge with the most efficient divorce process possible when you aim to work together.

Read: Successful Divorce Mediation Tips and Tricks

References

The Demographics of Remarriage. (November 2014). Pew Research Center.
Divorce in California. Judicial Branch of California. 
Submit Judgment and Written Agreement to Finish Your Divorce. Judicial Branch of California.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Divorce Specialists
After spending years in toxic and broken family law courts, and seeing that no one wins when “lawyer up,” we knew there was an opportunity to do and be better. We created Hello Divorce to the divorce process easier, affordable, and completely online. Our guiding principles are to make sure both spouses feel heard, supported, and set up for success as they move into their next chapter in life.