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DIY Divorce Guide

How Long Does the Average Divorce Take?

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Divorce cases that go to trial take an average of 17.6 months to resolve, but spouses who settle their issues can have their uncontested divorce final in about 1–3 Months.

Letting a judge resolve divorce issues doesn’t make unhappy spouses happier former spouses. As the number of issues resolved at trial increases, the overall satisfaction with the process decreases. The longer a case drags on and the more squabbling between the spouses, the unhappier they are likely to become. The more issues that require resolution through trial; the more expensive the trial becomes. Typical issues involved in a divorce action may include child custody and support, alimony, division of property and debt, attorney’s fees, claims for reimbursement, and breach of judiciary duty.

Many different factors can slow down or speed the time it takes to get a divorce.

Mandatory Waiting Periods

Most states require a mandatory waiting period between the filing of the divorce petition and when the court issues a final divorce decree. The average mandatory waiting period is between 30 and 90 days.

Each jurisdiction has various reasons for its mandatory waiting period laws. Some hope to reduce unnecessary divorces (and some couples attempt counseling or even reconcile during the waiting period). Some want parents to become educated on co-parenting and make the proper arrangements to reduce the potential negative impact of the divorce on their kids.

Conflict in the Divorce

The conflict between spouses directly correlates around the question "how long does an online divorce take?" An uncontested divorce, where the spouses agree on the terms and conditions of the settlement, can normally be finalized by the end of the jurisdiction’s waiting period.

A contested divorce, on the other hand, where the spouses disagree on some or all issues such as property division, child custody, or child support takes much longer to finalize a divorce. The parties must resolve the issues in negotiation, which can take several months. And if disputes go to trial, resolution may be months away or even longer.

The Complexity of the Divorce

Complex divorces often take longer to conclude. Parenting issues, ownership of a business, significant marital property, international or interstate issues, all can take time to hash out the details in a settlement. Complex divorces require information to paint the full picture of the marriage and what divorce should look like. A party may need expert evaluators, a parenting investigation, medical evaluations, and forensic accounting specialists.

Speeding Up the Divorce

Couple can expedite the movement of a divorce through the court.

In some states, a party can petition to waive the mandatory waiting period, which can be done in some cases when filing for an uncontested divorce.

One of the easiest ways to speed up the divorce is good preparation. Collecting relevant information about the marriage, including financial documents, and parenting information, can help an attorney determine what additional information is needed to draw a complete picture of the marriage headed for divorce.

Cooperation goes a long way toward speeding up a divorce. Cooperation does not mean agreeing to everything that an estranged spouse requests. It means setting and sticking to deadlines, responding to requests for information, and communicating promptly.

Cooperative spouses reduce the number of required court appearances (if any). When everyone shares information and fully participates, fruitful settlement discussions occur sooner. This can be especially true in more complex divorce cases involving the analysis of a lot of information.

Battling couples usually make more court appearances, and they cannot narrow the issues, which drags the length of the divorce process out for many months. Conflict is obvious, or else the spouses would not be ending their marriages. Common sense and good legal advice maintains the focus on what is important.

Mediation is often a quicker alternative to going to trial. Mediation involves a third party to discuss the issues and work toward agreement. The mediator provides feedback, evaluates the case and narrows issues the spouses disagree on. Settling the case outside of court through mediation saves both time and money.

When negotiation fails, mediation flounders, or dispute resolution stalls, the case may go to trial. Trials are often scheduled months or even a year after the petition for divorce is filed. Litigation often takes a long time, especially when one or both sides requests a postponement of the trial due to extenuating circumstances.

After the Divorce

Sometimes additional considerations after the divorce extend the time it takes to implement the orders set out in decree. These can include, the division of any retirement plans with a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO), the transfer of titles of property, and the revision of an estate plan and beneficiary designations on insurance policies.
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