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What is the 6-Month Cooling Off Period?

California has a 6-month cooling off period. What does that mean? It means that you cannot be divorced before 6 months passes and that clock begins ticking the day that your divorce Petition packet is served on the other spouse. Some clients have asked me if that means they are automatically divorced after 6 months. The answer is no. The cooling off period just means that you cannot be divorced until at least 6 months passes. This gives you time to “cool off” or reconcile if you so choose to do so before the divorce is final.

Remember, you don’t have to have the other person “personally served.” In any kind of amicable divorce process, we have the person receiving the Petition packet sign a certain form saying that she/he received the Petition. Petitions are only “personally served” when the divorce is not going to be resolved amicably.

If you tell your attorney that you want to resolve your divorce amicably and the attorney wants to have your spouse personally served, you can tell your attorney not to personally serve your spouse and to send a letter with the Petition packet and the receipt form to sign along with a self-addressed stamped envelope. This is a discussion you can have with your attorney to decide the best way to serve the Petition in your particular case to avoid adding fuel to the fire. If your Petition is personally served, your spouse may go hire a bulldog attorney to fight you rather than focusing on settling your case amicably.

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