In California, either spouse can obtain a divorce at any time for any reason. This is why California is labeled as a no-fault state. It does not matter if you want a divorce and your spouse does not. Your spouse cannot block the divorce, and you do not need permission from your spouse to obtain one. No one needs to let you get a divorce; the fact that you want a divorce and your spouse does not is called irreconcilable differences . This is a basis for a divorce in California.
A no-fault divorce also means the terms of a divorce are not dependent upon either party's behavior. It does not matter if one person was bad and one person was "good" during the marriage. The result of the property division will still the same. Unless one spouse's behavior affects his/her ability to be a good parent, the court will not even allow testimony about all the bad things one person did to the other. This is what is meant by a "no-fault state."
Because California is a no-fault state, it always takes at least six months and one day to get a divorce. The six months does not actually begin until the divorce paperwork has been filed, and the Respondent (the party who did not file the first set of divorce papers has been properly served. This six month timeframe is called a "waiting period." The waiting period is designed to make sure both spouses have had enough time to think about the decision to divorce before the court dissolves the marriage. If, at the end of the six months, either party still desires a divorce, the court will dissolve the marriage.
Since a divorce does not happen automatically, at least one person must always file the appropriate paperwork to move the case along. At all stages, it is up to at least one party to notify the court that the waiting period has expired, that the Respondent has not filed an answer, or to request a hearing in front of a judge. Even after appearing in court, the divorce paperwork must be prepared and filed in order to put the judge's orders in writing. Many times, it is up left up to the parties' divorce attorneys to make sure the divorce moves along toward a judgment by filing the correct papers in the right order and appearing in court whenever necessary.