The “6-Month Rule” is known as a “Cooling-Off ” Period, and is a mandatory period before the legal status of a marriage can be terminated and the parties deemed divorced.
Family Code § 2339 states in pertinent part, “…no judgment of dissolution is final for the purpose of terminating the marriage relationship of the parties until six months have expired from the date of service of a copy of summons and petition or the date of appearance of the respondent, whichever occurs first”.
Public policy favors the continuity of marriage, and this six month period is intended to give both parties an opportunity other avenues to divorce like Divorce Mediation Services to be sure their differences are truly irreconcilable and reconciliation is not possible. Read More
Although the six-month rule is mandatory as applied specifically to the marital status of the parties, other issues attendant to the process can proceed in the meantime, including custody, support, and property division.
In fact, it is possible to file a full, final Judgment well before the six-month date on a Default basis (the other party does not respond to the petition in the required time), a Default with Agreement basis (the other party does not respond however the parties negotiate a settlement agreement), or even on an Uncontested basis (the other party files a response, but a settlement agreement is reached in the meantime).
These alternatives to a contested divorce are usually cases which are less complex, or where the parties are able to resolve the ancillary issues of a divorce amicably.
In these cases, a Judgment is sometimes submitted to the Court, and even processed, signed by the judge, and returned prior to the six-month expiration, however, the date that the parties’ legal status is terminated is a prospective date on or around that six-month date.