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How long does your spouse have to respond to a divorce?

On Behalf of | Jun 18, 2024 | Family Law

When you file for a divorce in California, you have to serve your spouse with the divorce petition. You may hire someone to do this or you may do it yourself. Either way, they officially get the paperwork that they then have to respond to as the process moves forward.

However, they do not have to respond immediately. In California, people are typically given 30 days to make this response. Your spouse may be on board with the divorce and they may move forward immediately. But they can take their time if they want to think about how to address this. You can’t proceed with the rest of the divorce – court hearings, etc – until they have either responded or exceeded the 30-day limit.

What if they never respond?

There are certainly situations in which a spouse never responds to the divorce petition at all. They may claim that they lost or misplaced the paperwork. More often, though, they don’t want to get divorced and they think that the entire process will end if they just do not respond.

But this isn’t true. You can get divorced without your spouse’s cooperation, and the court can use a default divorce. You do have to wait for the 30 days that your spouse has to respond. If they don’t, though, that definitely doesn’t put an end to the divorce case. 

That said, if you’re running into these types of complications with the divorce petition itself, the rest of the case may get very complex. Be sure you know what legal options you have.