While a divorce may seem like a straightforward process, it can take up to a year or more, depending on where you live and whether the petition is contested, as well as several other factors. Therefore, it is hard to predict the timeline. An amicable split can be completed in a matter of a month or two while a fault-based proceeding can take significantly longer. Thus, to understand the timeline, it is necessary to understand the contributing factors.
Fault-Based or No-Fault
A fault-based divorce typically takes several months and possibly up to a year because it requires a trial. In this type of divorce, one spouse accuses the other of adultery, abuse or some other negligible acts, like gambling or drug or alcohol addiction. Therefore, before a judgment can be made, the court must hear the evidence of the accusation.
A no-fault divorce will typically take less time because both parties accept responsibility for the divorce. There is usually little need for a trial in no-fault proceedings because they are often amicable, meaning that, if permitted by the state, a couple can settle and dissolve the marriage outside of a trial.
Uncontested or Contested
Similar to a no-fault divorce, an uncontested divorce can be resolved quickly and amicably. These divorces require no trial. All that is needed is that you and your spouse sign the marital settlement agreement as well as the necessary paperwork. Once signed, a judge only needs to review the papers and grant the divorce.
A contested divorce occurs when the original petition, stating the terms of the divorce, is not agreed to by both parties. The disagreement can be about the marital assets, custody arrangements or financial support. Regardless of the reasons, a contested divorce can take up to a year or more and will require a trial.
Requirements and Waiting Periods
Every state varies on the rules and regulations surrounding a divorce. Some municipalities allow for quick dissolution agreements that can be finalized outside of formal court proceedings while others require trials or waiting periods. In some states, a couple cannot get divorced until they have demonstrated an effort to resolve the marital issues. For instance, some states require a minimum of a year separation prior to a divorce.
The timeline of a divorce varies depending on municipality, fault, and disagreement. If you are thinking about getting divorced, then it is wise to contact a family lawyer in your state to discuss the specifics and requirements of your situation. They will likely be able to present a good idea of your expected divorce timeline.