Divorce Timeline: How Long Can It Take? How Much Will It Cost?

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by | Mar 15, 2022

If you’re thinking about getting divorced, there are many factors to consider, including how long does a divorce take. After all, this is a life-changing decision and one you don’t want to enter into lightly.

Many people don’t realize that divorces aren’t always cut and dry. While some divorces can be handled quickly, others take more time when you factor in children, child support, assets, and other issues.

We’re going to take a look at how long a divorce can take and what factors can play into its length as well as some of the costs.

Things that Factor into How Long a Divorce Takes

Here are several factors to consider as you prepare for divorce and start thinking about how long the process will take.

The state you live in

Different states have different rules. Some states have what’s referred to as a “cooling-off period”. This is a set amount of time that each party must take to think about what they’re doing and ultimately decide if it’s the best choice.

Not all states have a cooling-off period. Georgia, New Jersey, and New Hampshire are among those that do not have a cooling-off period. On the flip side, California courts require the longest cooling-off period in the country at six months. In Texas, the cooling-off period is 60 days, while in other states, like Pennsylvania, it’s longer at 90 days.

The type of divorce you choose

Some divorces take longer than others. A quick divorce is usually an uncontested divorce because there is no trial. Also, if you and your spouse can agree quickly on all aspects of the divorce, it will move quickly. This is true when you file a no-fault divorce. All the judge has to do is look it over and make sure everything is in order. This could take anywhere from several weeks to several months depending on how busy the court is.

If a divorce is contested, it’s likely going to take some time. Major issues like property division, custody, alimony, and child support all have to be worked out. When an agreement can’t be reached, the divorcing couple has to go to trial. This can take months and sometimes even years.

When you opt for mediation or collaborative divorce, the idea is to reach an agreement on all issues without having to go to divorce. This can take longer than an uncontested divorce, but typically shorter than a contested divorce if the issues can be resolved.

The complexity of your divorce

Let’s face it; some divorces can be messy. These are the ones that can drag out in the court and take forever. If your divorce is complex, it may fall into this category, especially if you can’t agree.

If a couple hasn’t been married for a long time, doesn’t have minor children, and has not many assets, the divorce shouldn’t be too complex and can move along fairly quickly. But, if it was a long marriage with children, property and debts, and many assets, things can get complicated. When one spouse has been hiding assets, you can expect things to take even longer.

Child support, custody, and alimony

Child support, custody, and alimony can all be major sticking points in divorce proceedings. While child support and alimony are usually pre-determined based on income, custody is an issue that both parties need to agree upon.

Often, children get stuck in the middle when it comes to custody. This can cause more issues where the court may need to get involved to determine what’s best for the child.

How Long Does a Divorce Take When Both Parties Agree to the Divorce?

When everyone can agree, things will move faster, bottom line. The exact length of the divorce proceedings will depend on the state where the motion was filed. But know that when parties can agree it’s a good thing for everyone involved.

If there are mandatory waiting periods and both parties agree, things can get started once that period is over. If there is no cooling-off period, things may be able to move along even quicker.

Keep this in mind, though. Most states require that you live there for at least six months before you file for divorce. If you don’t meet this requirement, you may have to wait a little longer to say “I don’t”.

How Long Does It Take to File for a Divorce?

If you’re the one filing for divorce, you must send the divorce petition to the family court near you. When you hire a divorce lawyer, this speeds up the process because they can make sure you have all of the relevant paperwork filled out. This can take a few days or up to a few weeks to complete.

How Long Will It Take to Respond To Proceedings?

Once the court notifies your spouse about the divorce petition, they’ll have 8 days to respond. If they accept it, the divorce moves to the next step. If they choose to challenge it, they have 21 days to explain, thus delaying the process.

How Long Does the Decree Nisi and Decree Absolute Take?

The decree nisi is a legal document the court issues that states that there is no reason not to grant the divorce. If your spouse doesn’t fight the divorce petition, the decree nisi could take less than one month. If they choose to challenge it, it will take longer.

When one party receives the decree nisi, you’ll have to wait 43 more days to apply for an absolute decree and finalize your divorce.

Can You Speed Up the Divorce Process?

This is no speed pass to getting a divorce, but there are a couple of things you can do to avoid delays. Having all of your paperwork ready to go will help as well as hiring a divorce lawyer who can help make sure everything is done correctly. If your state has a cooling-off period, you can try to waive it, but this doesn’t always work.

Are You Ready to Get a Divorce?

As you think about divorce, consider if you’re ready and if it’s what you really want to do. Sometimes a cooling-off period or legal separation is a good idea so that you can clear your head and determine what you really want to do.

If you decide that you do want to go ahead with the divorce, know that there is no set time for how long a divorce can take. It depends on the type of divorce you get, if there’s a prenuptial agreement, and how many assets you have, as well as if children are involved. These are all things to take into consideration.

Also, look at the state where you live to see if there is a cooling-off period and/or a residency requirement. These are both things that can delay your divorce.

In the end, hiring a divorce attorney will help to make sure all paperwork is filled out correctly and that the proper procedures are taken. Your family law attorney is also a good person to ask if you need legal advice or want to know more about how long does divorce take and what you’ll need to file for divorce in Texas.

Reach out to our law offices for an initial consultation. Our qualified attorneys will help you understand the divorce papers and what information you’ll need to gather to prepare for your divorce. We may be able to also offer legal advice if you wish to dissolve a civil partnership or domestic partnership.