This is the most frequently received question I get about Divorce.
Everyone wants to know "how long will it take" or "when will I finally be free from him / her (yes, I really hear that one too!). Here comes the lawyer answer you all hate (cue the eye roll) - "it depends."
Why does it depend?
The cooperation of both parties directly impacts how quickly the Divorce is finalized.
For instance, if you both are in Agreement with the terms of the Divorce (i.e. custody, support, distribution of the marital assets and debts, etc), you could type it up, both sign off on it, file it with the Court and then you will be scheduled for an uncontested hearing. In this situation, assuming you reach the Agreement before or right after filing your Complaint, you could be divorced in as quickly as 90 days from the date you filed the Complaint.
If you guys cannot agree on things, or everything, then your Divorce would take the typical process, including completing Discovery (interrogatories, which are written questions, and Notices to Produce, which are written document requests), filing Case Information Statements, Parental Mediation and Matrimonial Early Settlement Panel (mediation with attorneys, if you have them). Contested cases can take more than one year, although the Courts try their best to finalize them within one year.
If your spouse is not necessarily contesting the Divorce or objecting to what you're requesting, but simply does not participate in the process, that can lengthen the time a little bit too (but it still won't take nearly as long as a Contested Divorce). For instance, you have to serve your spouse with a copy of the Complaint. Your spouse has 35 days to file an Answer and if no Answer is filed within that time, the Court will send a notice advising your spouse they did not file an Answer and giving them an additional 35 days. If no Answer is filed by the end of that second 35 day period, the Court will schedule you for an uncontested divorce hearing about 30-45 days out.
What's the fastest way to get Divorced?
Reach an Agreement with your spouse, if at all possible. Reaching an Agreement before filing the Complaint or very soon after will substantially shorten the time your Divorce takes.
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The contents of this blog entry are provided for informational purposes only. You should consult with an attorney to determine how the law applies to the facts of your particular case. Reading this blog entry does not create an attorney-client relationship with Kelly McGriff Law.