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When people decide to get divorced, they usually want the process to go as quickly as possible so they can move on with their lives. However, due to divorce statues and family law courts that regulate the divorce process, a divorce needs to go through certain steps that are predictable and clearly defined.
While some people may see these steps as burdensome and time-consuming, they also help to give us what to expect from the whole process. So if you’re wondering “how long does it take to get divorced?” then you’ve come to the right place.
Continue reading and we’ll walk you through the general steps so that you understand how long a divorce generally takes
When both spouses are in total agreement about every detail in their divorce, that’s known as an uncontested case. These details include child alimony and support, division of liabilities, parenting arrangements, division of assets, and who gets tax exemptions.
The spouses can’t disagree or argue but instead must fully cooperate. Of any kind of divorce, an uncontested case is typically the shortest. Because attorneys can have control over the schedule, uncontested cases conducted by attorneys tend to go the fastest.
It’s important that you find a divorce lawyer that you can trust and ask for guidance.
It generally takes around three weeks to prepare for the case. The filing is immediate while it can take three months for final hearing. This gives you a total of around 4 months for the whole process.
Initially Contested Divorce
This is perhaps the most common divorce case. Contested cases are traditionally prepared, filed with the court, and then a divorce is “served” to the other spouse. This includes a private process where a server delivers the documents to the spouse.
Usually, the majority of issues are contested in the case. The total number of contested issues is irrelevant though. It also doesn’t matter if both spouses agree or disagree to becoming single.
If either spouse is disputing anything, no matter how little the issue, the case goes from uncontested to contested. Luckily, most of the cases that are initially contested are settled at some “midway” point in the process. This is usually when both spouses attend mediation.
For a contested case, more intensive financial documents need to be organized and disclosed to the other spouse. The accuracy of documents and statements is much more important as many issues may depend on factual disputes.
Service of Summons and Petition
This part depends on how willing the other spouse is. Some spouses avoid the process server and extend the length of the divorce process.
After the Summons and Petition is served to the spouse, that spouse has 20 days to answer.
In every contested divorce, both spouses have to send each other a specified set of financial documents. These documents include tax returns, statements from retirement accounts paycheck stubs, and bank statements.
Normally, this process takes about three months. Divorces that are fully contested can go to trial and thus have much more intense requirements.
The majority of initially contested divorces come to a conclusion during mediation. Mediation is a negotiation process that semi-voluntary. Many spouses will settle the case at the mediation conference.
When a divorce is settled in mediation, the time that the divorce takes becomes a lot shorter. Mediation can be done through a private professional or the courthouse. Going with a private mediator can quicken the process even more.
After a successful mediation, the spouses then arrange for and attend their final hearing.
The final hearing is the final stage in a divorce case. If you settle in mediation, then your case will proceed along the “initially-contested” route and it will end in an uncontested final hearing.
In this situation, most final hearings occur in around 5 months’ time. The final hearing typically results in an order that grants the parties a divorce.
While having an attorney can hasten this final process, it’s more difficult to know how long it will take if neither party is represented.
The whole initially contested divorce process can take around 6 months to complete.
Contested cases are the kinds that make it into the newspapers and the ones that you see in movies and on TV. These tend to be the hardest on the families and can take anywhere from ten months to three years. On rare occasions, it can go on for five years or longer.
Up to the mediation, the process is fairly similar to initially contested divorces except all details need to be extremely accurate and more documents need to be organized and managed.
A classic indication of a highly contested divorce is the deposition that follows. Here, each attorney gets to ask questions and a court stenographer types it all down. These depositions can take up a lot of money and time.
The final trial in a contested case can last from several hours to several weeks. Normally, they only take one day. However, the preparation for this trial can last for a year.
The Answer to “How Long Does it Take to Get Divorced?”
After reading the above, you hopefully have a better understanding of the answer to the question “how long does it take to get divorced?” Of course, no two divorces are exactly alike and much of it depends on how amicable the spouses are and how much is being contested.
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