Getting married is much easier and faster than getting divorced. While you can get married on a whim in a matter of minutes, getting divorced will take anywhere from several months to several years. This is typically the most frustrating part of a divorce for a client, especially since the attorney has little control over the timeline. The length of time it takes to complete the divorce will be affected by the court’s backlog, the level of contention between the parties, and the complexity of the issues in the divorce.
A simple uncontested divorce may take anywhere from 30 days to 3 months, depending on the county where the case is filed and how quickly the parties are able to execute the Marital Settlement Agreement. An uncontested divorce is one where the parties agree on all issues prior to litigation. This means that the attorney can simply draft the agreement and the parties will execute it. While the attorney drafting the agreement only represents one spouse, the other spouse may have another attorney review the agreement or may choose not to hire an attorney, as long as he or she was given the opportunity to do so. Once the Marital Settlement Agreement is executed, the agreement simply needs to be approved by a judge who will then sign the Final Judgment of Divorce. Depending on the county, one party may be required to appear in front of the judge when he or she signs the final judgment. However, many counties now allow the parties to mail or email in the final judgment for execution, which means that you may never have to appear in court for your divorce.
If your case is resolved at mediation, it may take anywhere from three to six months. However, remember that these timelines are only estimates. Often the length of a divorce is controlled by the level of contention between the parties. If one or both parties fails to provide the necessary financial information, getting to mediation may also be delayed as the attorney may need to schedule a court date to require the other spouse to provide the financial information. Once all of the financial information is compiled, your attorney should then coordinate mediation with opposing counsel. It is important to utilize a skilled mediator for your divorce case. If you execute an agreement at mediation, the agreement is final, and you must live with the contents of the agreement. Make sure that you are comfortable with the agreement and fully understand it prior to executing an agreement during mediation.
While many factors play into the length of time it takes to get divorced, the most contentious divorces will take the longest to complete. If a divorce is unable to resolve at mediation, it must proceed to trial as there are only two ways to resolve a divorce case, either the parties reach a resolution, or the judge resolves it for you. Trial is a lengthy and contentious process that typically takes at least a year. While trial is necessary in some cases, it is an expensive and lengthy process that is not for the faint of heart. If you are proceeding to trial, it is important to discuss the potential outcomes at trial and how the judge assigned to your case has ruled in the past on similar issues with your family law attorney.