How Long Does it Take to Get Divorced?

It’s no secret that divorce can be a lengthy process, but having a general idea of a timeline can be helpful for planning purposes. We’ve had cases resolve in a matter of weeks to over three years (although, the latter is rare). The majority of cases settle somewhere in the 12-18 months range.

As a general rule of thumb, marriages of a shorter duration, in which the parties do not have substantial assets, or share children in common, can generally settle in a shorter time period. Long-term relationships and marriages with complex financial assets or contested child custody issues may take longer to resolve.

There are a number of factors that can substantially impact how long a divorce case may last. Some of them may be within your sphere of influence, while others are not within your control.

Possibly Within Your Control:

  • Prenuptial Agreement- If you have a prenup, this foresight can save you a lot of time dividing up assets, as these terms were already decided when the parties were amicable and communicative.
  • Speaking of Amicability- If both parties can table their emotions and remain civil, this can fast-track the process.
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution- Deciding to mediate your divorce or engaging in a collaborative divorce process to file an uncontested divorce may shorten the time it takes to finalize your divorce.
  • Being Organized/Responsive- Making your financial documents available to your attorney and the other side in a timely, organized manner will prevent delays caused by incomplete financial information.

Outside Factors:

  • Contested Custody Issues- Most “high-conflict” cases deal with issues surrounding custody and the parenting schedule. These disputes, along with the appointment of a GAL (Guardian ad Litem) can lengthen the amount of time it takes to reach resolution.
  • Hidden Assets/Sketchy Finances- If the other party isn’t forthcoming about all of their assets or is self-employed and providing numbers on their financial statements that don’t add up, this may lead to discovery disputes and the potential involvement of a forensic accountant.
  • Court Considerations- Some counties are notorious for having long waiting periods to schedule motion and other hearing dates, while others have more reasonable schedules. Sometimes, judges get sick or court technology goes down and you have to reschedule your court appearance.

Divorce cases can start out extremely amicable and then go south out of nowhere, and we’ve had highly contentious cases that settle seemingly out-of-the-blue because both parties decided to cut the BS, stop paying their lawyers, and come to the table. So even if you start out in one place on this spectrum, it doesn’t mean that you will stay there.

It’s also important to remember that there is a waiting period for a divorce to become finalized even after an agreement is reached. In Massachusetts, if you file an uncontested divorce, you will still be legally married for 120 days after your uncontested divorce hearing. If you file a contested divorce and end up settling, you will still be legally married for 90 days after your Separation Agreement is approved by the court. This is known as the “Nisi” period. You can still carry out all the terms of your divorce agreement, but you cannot remarry anyone else during this time.

We are always here to discuss options and strategy with you. Just click the button below to get some time on our calendar!

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