What Is a Pending Divorce?
By Teo Spengler
Updated March 30, 2020
A divorce goes through many stages, starting from the first serious issues arising between a couple and terminating in the final divorce decree issued by the court. A pending divorce generally refers to the intermediate stage after the divorce papers have been filed and before the court has issued judgment.
You can argue until the wee hours every night for a year, but a divorce is not pending until one spouse files initiating paperwork with the appropriate court. The documents -- a summons and petition or complaint for divorce -- officially begin the divorce action. Once those papers are served on the other spouse in the manner required by court rules, litigation is underway.
Terminating a Divorce
Your divorce is no longer pending when the court issues its final judgment or order of divorce and the time period for post-judgment motions and appeals has passed. The timing varies among jurisdictions and between litigants. Some states, like California, require that at least six months pass between the filing and final judgment, which can increase the period during which the divorce is pending.
From Alaska to California, from France's Basque Country to Mexico's Pacific Coast, Teo Spengler has dug the soil, planted seeds and helped trees, flowers and veggies thrive. World traveler, professional writer and consummate gardener, Spengler earned a BA from U.C. Santa Cruz, a law degree from Berkeley's Boalt Hall, and an MA and MFA from San Francisco State. She currently divides her life between San Francisco and southwestern France.