Filing for divorce is an extremely difficult decision. This decision usually comes after a period of time fraught with hurt and frustration. Prolonging the situation adds stress to an already emotionally charged time of life, but finalizing the divorce does not happen immediately. The length of time from deciding to end a marriage to the official finalization of a divorce varies depending on the state. Here are some questions you need to consider that affect timing:
- Does your state have divorce residency requirements?
- Depending on the state, there is a residency requirement of 0 to 365 days. Florida requires 6 months of residency before getting a divorce.
- Does your state have a required waiting period?
- Some states require a “cooling-off period,” to make certain you and your spouse wish to divorce. In Florida, you must wait 20 days from the filing before the divorce can be finalized.
- Does your state require you and your spouse to live in separate residences for a period of time before finalizing the divorce?
- Some states require you to live in separate residences or no longer be intimate before the divorce. Florida has no residential requirements.
How Long Does an Uncontested Divorce Take?
An uncontested divorce is a situation where both parties agree on claims such as child support and custody, alimony, and division of property and debts. In a situation where both parties want a divorce but don’t agree on all the details, it is wise to request mediation before filing. Having an equitable distribution attorney will smooth the distribution process, and allow you to have all the decisions made before the paperwork is filed. This will cut down on the time necessary for the divorce to come to an end.
Depending on the state, if you meet state residency requirements, and both spouses are present, a non-contested divorce can take a relatively short amount of time. In Florida, it can be anywhere between 30 and 90 days. If you have children, some states, including Florida, require you to take a seminar on children and divorce. Parents can take this seminar during the waiting period, so as not to extend the length of time before conclusion. If both spouses sign the served paperwork as soon as possible, once the waiting period is over, the completion of the divorce process will be over quickly. Especially if you have a divorce lawyer on your side to walk you through the process.
How Long Does a Contested Divorce Take?
A contested divorce means that one or both of the spouses does not agree to the other’s claims. In this case, the case will go to trial. The timing of all hearings will depend entirely on how busy the court system is in the county. If the judge is unavailable or your case requires multiple hearings, the process can take six to twelve months or more. Often, an initially contested case is solved after court-ordered mediation.
If either side chooses to fight financial disclosure or conduct a deposition, the divorce can drag on for an extended period. While the average divorce trial takes one day, the preparation leading up to the trial date can take five months to a year. Dragging out the proceedings is often used as a weapon by either side. This can make the whole process even more stressful and expensive. Having an experienced lawyer advocate for you is important to shortening the time spent in court. Also, it is important to make sure your interests are well represented.