How Long Does a Divorce Take? A Guide on What You Need to Know

Can you imagine filing for divorce at 101 years old? According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Harry Bidwell did just that! At 101 years of age, he successfully divorced his wife, living out the rest of his life as a single man.

If you’re going through a divorce, you understand why Harry did what he did. Regardless of age, staying in an unhappy marriage is torturous.

For those who are ready to pave their way back to happiness, we can help! We’ve created a short guide to answer your divorce-related questions. For example, how long does a divorce take, and how can you speed things up?

Read on to find out your divorce timeline.

How Long Does a Divorce Take?

How long does a divorce take exactly? The timeline of your divorce will depend on a few different factors.

Here are the main factors that determine the length of your divorce:

  • Can you meet your state’s divorce requirements?
  • Is there a waiting period in your state?
  • Do you have to go through a separation period?

The state you live in will significantly affect how long it takes to finalize your divorce.

Divorce Waiting Period

If your state has a waiting period, you must wait a designated amount to finalize things. In certain conditions, the waiting period is the amount that takes place before you can file. However, other states will ask you to wait until after filing.

Separation Period

A separation period works similarly to the waiting period but with a few caveats. Usually, the separation period is a requirement you have to meet before or after filing.

Separation periods are different than waiting periods because they’re more strict. For example, you’ll likely have to live in a separate residence than your spouse to qualify as distinct.

What’s the difference between separation and divorce? When you are separate and apart from your spouse, you’re still legally married. However, once the divorce is finalized, you’ll no longer be a spouse, and the marriage will be officially over.

State Residency Requirements

States don’t want married couples to shop for the best divorce laws. As a result, residency requirements are in place for each state individually. A residency requirement is a time you have to live in a state before you can file for divorce there.

For example, let’s say you just moved to California. There will be a set amount of time to live in California before becoming an official resident. California won’t refuse your motion if you try to file for a divorce before becoming a resident.

Your lawyer must satisfy the state’s residency rule before you can even file for divorce. If you already have a family lawyer, ask them to walk you through the requirements for your state.

Fault and No-Fault Divorce

If your divorce is a no-fault divorce, the process will be easier than filing for a fault divorce. In the past, divorces were all fault, and no responsibility wasn’t an option.

A fault divorce is one where you have to prove that your spouse did something to cause the end of your marriage. For example, adultery, cruelty, and abandonment were a few faults people would file for.

Luckily, in 1969, California became the first state to allow no-fault divorces. Other states soon did the same. As a result, today, every state has a no-fault divorce option.

Fault divorces are almost nonexistent. A no-fault divorce becomes even more likely when a married couple doesn’t have a lot of assets to split up.

Uncontested Divorce Process

Are you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse willing to work together throughout the divorce? When both spouses are willing to figure things out in a friendly way, you can have an uncontested divorce. Here are some of the things spouses will need to agree on for an uncontested divorce:

  • Custody arrangements
  • Visitation schedules
  • Division of assets
  • Child support payments

If you’re entering into an uncontested divorce, it’s still a good idea to have an attorney. Your attorney will be able to advise you on the best steps to take before you agree to the terms.

Timeline for Uncontested Divorce

How exactly does an uncontested divorce work? First, you and your spouse will need to file separate paperwork. Then, you’ll decide on everything outside the court instead of going to a hearing. You’ll also be able to avoid going to any settlement negotiations.

Visit the Clerk of Courts

If you go to the court clerk’s office, they’ll estimate how long your divorce will take. Next, make sure you visit the clerk’s office for the county where you’re filing for divorce. There, they’ll be able to tell you about any waiting periods or other time requirements.

Divorce Arbitration Can Speed Things Up

It may be time for divorce arbitration for spouses who need outside help to agree on things. Disputes can slow down your divorce more than anything else.

If your ex is being unreasonable and won’t agree with you on an important matter, you may need outside help. Unfortunately, waiting to get help could cause your entire divorce proceedings to halt.

Avoid Public Courtrooms

Divorce arbitration can help resolve things more privately. Instead of jumping right into a public courtroom, you can negotiate in a private setting.

Going through divorce arbitration is a type of trial. However, it takes place with an arbitrator in a private place. Therefore, you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse must attend an arbitration hearing.

Before the arbitration hearing can even take place, both parties must agree on the setup. Then, with your attorney’s help, you’ll negotiate who will be the arbitrator; both parties will decide how long the arbitrator will reach a decision.

Once everyone agrees on the grounds for the arbitration hearing, you’re ready to get the ball rolling. After listening to both sides, the arbitrator decides on the disputed issue. Unlike a court case, you won’t be able to appeal to the arbitrator.

Finalize Your Divorce

How long does a divorce take? Now you know that’s utterly dependent on your situation. Hopefully, our article could help shed some light on what exactly happens during a divorce.

We know that transitioning out of a marriage can be difficult. However, you should be proud of yourself for taking the time to find the answers you need. Explore the rest of this site for more answers to life’s biggest questions.


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