Uncontested divorces – those in which both sides agree to the terms of the judgment – usually take far less time than contested divorces. When you are eager to end a marriage that is no longer working, it’s normal to wonder how long the dissolution process will take. As with other legal proceedings, the amount of time it takes to get a divorce finalized depends on a number of variables.
How Long Does a Divorce Take? Factors to Consider
Here are some factors to keep in mind as you plan for your future.
Does your state have a waiting period? Sometimes referred to as a “cooling off” period, this is a designated amount of time that passes between the date of legal separation and the date your divorce is finalized. Of all 50 states, California has the longest cooling off period: it takes at least 6 months and one day to finalize a divorce in California, even when both sides agree to all issues. Note that not all states require this waiting period. Texas, New York, Florida, and New Jersey are among the states that no longer require a separation period. Be sure to check your state’s laws for specific information concerning separation requirements before divorce.
How many valuable assets do you have as a couple? The greater your assets, the longer your divorce is likely to take. If you or your spouse believe that there may be hidden assets, divorce proceedings may take longer.
Do you have children? If so, your divorce may take longer to finalize.
Are you a legal resident in the state where you plan to file for divorce? In most states, at least one spouse must be a legal resident for a specified period of time. For example, California law calls for a six-month residency period for all divorces. Meanwhile, New Jersey requires a one-year residency period except for in cases where adultery is listed as the cause. It’s worth noting that you can begin the process of getting your paperwork in order before residency requirements are met, regardless of where you live.
Attorney and court schedules: How busy is your attorney, and how full is the court’s docket? While these factors might not make a major difference in timing, they are worth considering.
How Long Does it Take to Get a Divorce? No-Fault Divorces are Faster
The divorce process tends to move faster when no one wants to argue or assign blame. In some states, it is not possible to file for an “at-fault” divorce. Since there is no need to prove fault, your case may proceed more quickly. All 50 states offer no-fault divorces, and so does Washington D.C.
How Long after Divorce Papers are Signed is it Final?
Once all documents have been signed by both spouses, the court must review your case. The amount of time required to finalize divorce depends on a variety of factors including state laws. The following examples illustrate a few of the differences:
California: Getting divorced takes a minimum of six months and one day from the time of legal separation to the date of divorce finalization.
Florida: Divorce law requires a 20-day waiting period between the date you file for a divorce and the hearing. If you meet the qualifications for a simplified divorce, then your divorce may be finalized at that hearing. If you do not qualify for a simplified divorce, finalization will take anywhere from a few weeks to several months to complete.
New Jersey: Getting a divorce takes between two months and one year or less in most cases.
New York: Uncontested divorce takes an average of three months, although it is possible to complete proceedings faster in some cases.
How Long Does a Contested Divorce Take?
If either party is contesting the divorce, proceedings may drag on for months. Factors such as child custody, child support, division of property, and alimony are among the top considerations in contested divorce proceedings. When parties are hostile toward one another or when attorneys are highly aggressive, it is possible for a year or more to pass before the divorce is finalized.
Every divorce is different and judges do not take shortcuts, even when proceedings are simple and both sides agree that it is best to part ways. As it turns out, there is no short answer to the question “How long does a divorce take?” While no one wants to endure a lengthy, drawn-out process, the judicial system must ensure that the case is handled with appropriate care from start to finish.