According to the Life Change Index Scale, divorce is the second-most stressful event. A recent legal study found that the typical divorce takes a year, although your situation may vary.
Divorce can be challenging if you have kids, many assets and obligations, or a hard time compromising. This tutorial explains how long a divorce usually takes and what factors affect it.
How long does it take to get a divorce?
Most divorces last approximately a year, but if yours is uncontested or you and your husband can rapidly come to an agreement, it might go more swiftly.
State Requirements that Delay Divorce
The regulations set forth by state laws may affect how long it takes to finalize a divorce.
It is necessary to find out if you are even qualified to file for divorce in the state where you currently reside before you can even think about how long it will take to receive one. Except for Alaska, South Carolina, and Washington, most states demand that you live there for a set amount of time (often three to six months) before you can file for divorce there. These regulations are meant to stop people from looking about for the state with the best legal framework.
If you do not yet satisfy the residency criteria of your state, you will need to wait until you do or consider filing in another state where you do.
Waiting Period or Cooling Off Period
To be sure they truly want a divorce, many states impose waiting or cooling-off periods that force the parties to wait a predetermined amount of time (often 30 to 90 days) before proceeding. Even without a waiting period, there are certain states, but they are few in number.
Mandatory Separation Period
An obligatory separation period, distinct from a waiting period, is mandated in several states. Before a divorce may be officially finalized, a couple must live apart for a period of time, typically at least six months. Although not all states demand it, those that do frequently have fault-based divorces (where one spouse is blamed for the divorce).
Fault vs. No-Fault Divorce
Whether the divorce is fault-based affects its duration. One spouse blames the other for a faulty divorce. Divorce grounds include infidelity, desertion, incarceration, or inability to complete the union. One spouse must prove culpability, which slows the process. The judge usually decides who is responsible if the parties can’t agree.
No-fault divorce is available in all states. Remember that a fault divorce can be filed at any time. In states that recognize fault in divorce, establishing fault might result in a greater marital estate divide or alimony for the non-faulting spouse.
Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce
Most divorces start out contentious because the parties disagree on the divorce terms. The divorce will proceed to trial if the couple cannot agree. A trial takes months to prepare for and numerous days over weeks to complete.
An uncontested divorce is one in which the parties are in agreement about:
- Child custody and parenting
- Child support
- Spousal support
- Distribution of assets and debts
Uncontested divorces don’t need trials when both parties agree on all terms. Most divorces settle out of court.
Most divorces settle after some arguing, but you can file for divorce with an agreement to speed things up. Recent legal research found that uncontested divorces averaged eight months.
One spouse can apply for a divorce if the other does not answer or appear in court. Only one spouse will file for divorce when this happens, advancing the case. No hearing is needed if the judge decides the spouse deserves what they want.
Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements
A prenuptial agreement specifies spousal support and asset division before a couple is married. After marriage, a postnuptial agreement settles the same issues. If a couple has a prenup or postnup, their issues are already settled, simplifying the divorce process.
Factors that Impact Your Timeline
There are a variety of other factors that impact how long your divorce will take.
Problems Serving Your Spouse
Divorce begins with serving your spouse with divorce papers. Process servers give documents to spouses. Some avoid process servers.
Each state allows service by mail, leaving documents with someone at the location, or publication in a newspaper. However, switching services can lengthen the divorce process.
Complexity of Issues
Real estate, children, and assets, including businesses, homes, vehicles, and loans, slow down a divorce. Disagreements over the separate property (properties spouses possessed before marriage or obtained as gifts or inheritance during marriage) and marital property exacerbate the situation (assets acquired during the marriage).
Custody disputes require a lot of negotiation. Trials take longer.
Level of Conflict
You and your husband are divorcing because you no longer want to be married, yet some marriages are much more difficult. Your divorce will take longer if you and your husband can’t communicate.
If your family has domestic violence, multiple hearings for orders of protection may be needed to detail the violence and any injuries. If children were abused or neglected, the custody issue is tough.
Both parties’ counsel must verify all assets during divorce. Hiding assets might delay the divorce. The court may punish a spouse who hides assets.
No matter how eager you may be to have your divorce finalised sooner rather than later, you must wait until the scheduled court dates. In addition, schedule problems for lawyers might cause delays.
How to Speed Up Your Divorce
While residence requirements, waiting periods, and necessary separations are things you cannot avoid, there are several things you may do to hasten the divorce process.
Use Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)
Mediation, collaborative divorce, or arbitration can help you resolve divorce issues faster than a trial.
An independent mediator helps the couple resolve all divorce concerns through mediation. It usually takes weeks or months. After the court approves an agreement, the divorce is finalized.
A couple hires an arbitrator to arbitrate (usually a retired judge or respected divorce attorney). Arbitrator decides. The parties can forego some formalities to speed up the procedure, and the arbitrator can often operate faster than the court. The parties agree that the arbitrator will decide the divorce terms.
Try to Work Together
Your divorce will move faster if you and your husband can address difficulties. Discuss and propose solutions. Your lawyer can explain how the court will likely address your case’s issues. You and your partner may resolve many challenges.