California has one of the most prolonged divorce waiting periods in the country. The law requires you and your spouse to wait at least six months after filing for divorce to finalize it, even if the two of you have settled matters like property division and child custody before then.
In some cases, divorcing couples are ready to wrap up their case at the six-month mark. But divorce is rarely so simple or easy. It can take a year or longer to negotiate a settlement. If negotiation and methods like mediation or arbitration do not work, the court will have to decide on key matters. That requires a court date that could be months in the future.
Still, few divorces take as long to complete as the one between Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver. The former governor and first lady of California’s marriage officially ended in late December — more than ten years after Shriver first filed for divorce after it was revealed Schwarzenegger had secretly fathered a child with another woman during their marriage.
How does a divorce take a decade?
It’s not clear why this divorce lasted more than a decade. As the Associated Press notes, the couple’s four children are now adults, with their youngest child turning 18 in 2015. Any child custody or support disputes would be moot. It might seem possible that disagreements over the division of the couple’s highly substantial assets caused the divorce to drag on, but the AP reports that there were virtually no court filings after the first weeks of the case in 2011 until sometime in 2021. Plus, both sides chose to keep their differences out of the media, so we may never know why they are only getting officially divorced now.
Balancing your needs
No matter what your differences with your ex might be, few people want their divorce to take longer than necessary. Dragging out the proceedings to get “revenge” on your ex only costs you financially and emotionally in the long run.
At the same time, agreeing to a settlement offer just to get it out of the way could cost you a lot in terms of spousal support, time with your kids and more. Instead, a divorce strategy that balances protecting your parental and property rights with the need for efficiency so you can begin the next phase of your life.