How Long Does a Divorce Take? A Detailed Guide

How Preparation, Legal Consulting, and Mediation Can Help With Your Divorce
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Are you wondering how long does a divorce take? If yes, you should check out our useful guide  on the vital things to understand.

Being in an unhappy marriage is never a pleasant experience and now that you have finally decided on a divorce, it’s understandable that you want to know how much longer you can take it.

The divorce process has never been an easy one and, sometimes, couples just want to go through it as fast as possible.

But how fast is fast? How long does a divorce take? Well, there is no straightforward answer to this, as there are varying factors that determine the timeline.

The process of finalizing a divorce varies from state to state and how agreeable your spouse is. In this post, we’ll address all the factors that determine how long a divorce takes and how you can speed up the process.

How Long Does a Divorce Take?

It takes an average of 11 months to complete a divorce process from filing to finalization. However, if couples are able to resolve the issues, it may take less time.

If the divorce case goes to trial, it will probably end up taking more time. Of course, these timelines don’t apply to all cases, so we’ll look at the factors that will determine how long your divorce process may take.

You should consider:

  • The state you live in and it’s laws regarding divorce waiting periods
  • Whether it’s a fault-based or no-fault based divorce
  • Whether it’s a contested or uncontested divorce
  • The extent of your assets and whether you need net worth evaluation
  • Level of conflicts about children custody
  • Whether one spouse feels there are hidden assets
  • Whether the local family court has a long list of cases
  • Residency requirements

Mandatory Waiting Periods

Almost all states have mandatory waiting periods. Some require a separation period before even filing for a divorce, while others stipulate a mandatory waiting period between filing and final decree.

The separation period is an amount of time you must live away from your spouse. It could be before you file for the divorce, or before the divorce is finalized, which depends on the state.

The mandatory period is known as the “cooling off” period and different states have different reasons for it. The cooling-off period allows couples to reconsider their decision and reconcile, or adjust to the situation they’re in. This also gives divorcing parents time to educate themselves about co-parenting and how they can reduce the negative impact of divorce on their children.

The Complexity of the Divorce

If you haven’t been married long enough to amass wealth together and only have a few assets, you will have few things to negotiate. Fewer negotiations mean a possibility for mediation instead of a divorce trial.

If, however, you have many assets together, such as one or more homes, cars, stocks, businesses, and considerable financial holdings, then it may take more time to determine which one of you gets what.

Sometimes you find some spouses hiding assets from the other. If you find yourself in such a case, it will prompt legal actions that could take months to resolve, prolonging the divorce period.

The Amount of Conflict Between Couples

The amount of conflict spouses have correlates with how long a divorce takes. If you have an uncontested divorce, meaning that you and your spouse have a mutual agreement and want to finalize things as soon as possible, the process will be faster.

However, if you have a contested divorce, where you and your spouse don’t agree on one or more things like child custody and property division, it’ll take longer to finalize things.

You may have to go through negotiations, which could take months and if you still don’t agree, you will have to go to trial. This could take additional months and possibly years.

Child Custody, Child Support, and Alimony

These are hand down the most contentious divorce issues and the reasons why most couples fight during the divorce process.

If you and your spouse can work out a co-parenting plan that you both agree with, then you will resolve a significant roadblock, which could speed up the process.

How Long Does a Divorce Take When Both Parties Agree?

An uncontested divorce is the fastest way to finalize things. This is also the simplest route, so if you and your spouse can agree on everything, you will save time, money, and all the trouble divorce comes with. The only waiting period you have to contend with is that stipulated by your state and the backlog in the court.

How Long Does It Take to File for a Divorce?

If you’re the one filing, the first thing you must do is send the divorce petition to the family court in your local area. Hiring a divorce lawyer can speed things up as they’ll help you full out the relevant paperwork. Essentially, it could take a few days to a few weeks.

How Long Will It Take to Respond To Proceedings?

The court will notify your spouse about the petition and they’ll have 8 days to respond.

They’ll either accept or decide to defend the petition. If they accept, you can proceed with the next step, but they choose to defend it, it’ll take an additional 21 days for them to give their reasons.

How Long Does the Decree Nisi and Decree Absolute Take?

The decree nisi is a legal document that the court issues stating that they see no reason not to grant the divorce. If your spouse accepts the divorce petition, the decree nisi could take less than a month, but if defended, it will take longer.

Upon receiving the decree nisi, you’ll have to wait an additional 43 days to apply for an absolute decree, which finalizes the divorce.

Can You Speed Up the Divorce Process?

If the divorce is uncontested, you may attempt to waive the cooling-off period in your state.

You can also act early and gather all relevant documents and information before filing. Hiring a divorce lawyer, avoiding unnecessary conflicts and trying mediation may also speed things up.

Are You Ready to Get Divorced?

So, how long does a divorce take? It all depends on where you are and whether you and your spouse are in mutual agreement. During this time, agreeing with your partner may not be easy and you may not see eye to eye on many things, but for a speedy divorce process, some things may have to give. Hire a professional divorce lawyer to help you navigate the laws and read more of our posts for more insightful content.

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