One very understandable question that clients often have for a divorce lawyer is, "How long is this going to take?" Several factors come into play, and they can determine whether your divorce will take anywhere from weeks to years to be completed. Let's look at three of those potential factors.
Cooperativeness of the Two Ex-Partners
The simplest and fastest path to divorce is when both ex-partners are willing to sign documents for a no-fault divorce so they can get on with their lives. In most cases, they each hire local divorce attorneys. Each of the exes will provide information about their current finances, assets and household arrangements.
The lawyers will usually bang out a boilerplate agreement between them by doing a few emails and maybe one or two phone calls. Everybody sits down together at one of the attorney's offices, they all do a quick read through and, absent any objections and they sign to the documents. From that point, it might take a couple of weeks for the paperwork to go through the local courthouse before the process is done.
States that Allow Contested Divorces
No-fault divorce is available in all 50 states, and several only allow no-fault proceedings. A few no-fault states allow one partner to ask for a cooling-off period that, depending on where you live, can range anywhere from a couple of months to two years.
Where things get trickier is if you live in a state that allows fault-based divorces. It's hard for an at-fault divorce to land because the courts don't like them unless there are compelling circumstances, such as attempts to hide marital assets. That doesn't mean, however, that the other party can't waste some of your time exploring a fault option.
Even in a no-fault proceeding or an amicable parting of ways, the court will want to see a fair and fully disclosed process of dividing up assets and liabilities from the marriage. Depending on just how much in the way a couple's finances were organized during their marriage, it can take a while to track down assets and identify liabilities. There may also be some questions of law that have to be resolved by the court about what does or doesn't count as marital property.
Bear in mind that temporary spousal and child support orders can be entered by the court if things are going to take a while. These orders can be modified and made permanent once everything is sorted out.