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How long will my divorce take from start to finish?

By Spodek Law Group | July 27, 2023
(Last Updated On: October 14, 2023)

Last Updated on: 14th October 2023, 09:23 am

How Long Will My Divorce Take?

Getting divorced can be a long and difficult process. Many folks going thru divorce just want to know – how long is this gonna take? The answer really depends Here is a 3000 word article on how long a divorce takes from start to finish:

How Long Will My Divorce Take?

Getting divorced can be a long and difficult process. Many folks going thru divorce just want to know – how long is this gonna take? The answer really depends on a lot of factors. This article will walk you through the typical timeline and steps of a divorce, and what can impact the length.

The Basics

In general, a divorce takes around 6-12 months from start to finish. However, it can take longer if your case is more complicated or contested.Here’s a quick overview of the basic divorce timeline:

  • 1-2 months – One spouse files the initial divorce paperwork and serves the other spouse. The other spouse must respond.
  • 1-3 months – The spouses exchange financial documents and work out agreements on issues like property division, alimony, and child custody.
  • 6 months – Most states require a 6 month waiting period before the divorce can be finalized. The spouses can work out agreements during this time.
  • 1 month – Once the waiting period is over, the final divorce paperwork can be submitted and approved by the court. Then the divorce is complete!

Of course, this timeline varies a lot based on your specific situation. Below are some of the key factors that impact how quickly you can get divorced.

Factors That Impact the Timeline

Your State’s Laws

Each state has its own laws that affect the divorce timeline. Some key things that vary by state:

  • Waiting periods – Most states require you to wait 6 months to a year before finalizing the divorce. Some states have shorter or no waiting periods.
  • Separation requirements – Some states require you to live separately for a period of time before filing for divorce. This can add time upfront.
  • Residency requirements – You have to be a resident of the state for a certain period of time to file there. This can delay the start if you recently moved.
  • Court backlogs – If the courts in your county are overloaded, it may take longer to get hearing dates and finalize the divorce.

Be sure to research the specific laws in your state to understand how they’ll impact your timeline. Your lawyer can help explain this too.

Contested vs Uncontested

An uncontested divorce is one where the spouses agree on all the terms – including property division, alimony, and child custody. This allows the process to move along more smoothly and quickly.Contested divorces take much longer since the spouses have to go through negotiations, mediation, or even a trial to settle disagreements. It’s not uncommon for contested divorces to take 1-2 years.The more issues you’re able to agree on up front, the faster your divorce is likely to be finalized. But if you have a lot of disputes, expect added time.


The more complicated your financial and family situation, the longer your divorce will take to sort out all the details. Some factors that can add complexity:

  • Jointly owned house or other real estate
  • Pensions, 401ks, stock options and other complex financial assets
  • Shared business interests
  • Significant debts
  • Custody disputes over multiple children
  • Spousal support/alimony considerations

Cases with lots of moving parts take longer to value assets, determine ownership interests, and negotiate fair divisions. Using experts like accountants can help move things along.

Behavior of Spouses

How you and your soon-to-be-ex handle yourselves during the divorce impacts the timeline too. Here are some behaviors that add delays:

  • Constant arguing and inability to compromise
  • Refusing to provide documentation
  • Hiding assets or lying about finances
  • Avoiding being served the divorce papers
  • Repeatedly delaying court dates or mediation
  • Making threats against the other spouse

On the other hand, being cooperative, organized with documents, and willing to negotiate reasonably will help expedite the process.

Use of Alternative Dispute Resolution

Turning to alternative dispute resolution methods like mediation and arbitration can sometimes help resolve issues more quickly than going through lengthy court proceedings. It’s worth exploring these options if you’re trying to speed things up.

The Steps and Timeline

To give you a better idea of how the divorce process plays out over time, here’s an overview of the typical steps and timeline:

1. File the Initial Paperwork (1-2 months)

The first spouse (the petitioner) works with their lawyer to prepare and file the initial divorce paperwork, including the petition for dissolution and summons.Next, the petitioner has to officially serve the papers to the other spouse (the respondent). The respondent has 30 days to file their response with the court. This kicks off the process.

2. Exchange Financial Info (1-2 months)

Within 60 days of the response being filed, the spouses have to exchange financial documents including:

  • Tax returns from the past 2-3 years
  • W-2s and 1099s
  • Bank statements
  • Retirement account statements
  • Documentation of assets and debts

This allows each spouse to value assets and negotiate a fair settlement. Expect it to take a few weeks to collect all the statements and paperwork.

3. Negotiate Settlement Terms (2-8 months)

During the waiting period, the spouses will negotiate terms for:

  • Child custody arrangements
  • Child support amount
  • Division of property and debts
  • Potential alimony/spousal support

Ideally, you’ll be able to reach agreements within 2-3 months. But contested divorces can take 6 months or more of back and forth before settling. Mediation is helpful for sticking points.

4. Wait Out State’s Required Waiting Period (6 months)

The waiting period begins when the respondent files their initial response. Even if you reach agreements sooner, you still have to wait out the state’s required time period before finalizing.Use this time to tie up loose ends and get your post-divorce life in order. But the divorce isn’t final until this period passes.

5. Submit Final Divorce Decree (1 month)

After the waiting period ends, your lawyer will submit the final paperwork to the court. This includes your settlement agreement and proposed divorce decree.The judge reviews everything to make sure you meet state requirements. As long as all looks good, they’ll approve the decree and finalize your divorce!

6. Finalize Logistics of Divorce (1-3 months)

After the divorce decree, it takes a few weeks or months to finalize all the logistical details, like:

  • Changing your name
  • Dividing retirement accounts
  • Transferring titles for property
  • Refinancing debt obligations

Wrapping up these financial loose ends can take a couple months depending on complexity. But congratulations – you are now legally divorced!

Speeding Up the Process

For those anxious to get divorced ASAP, here are some tips that can help expedite the process:

  • Talk it out – Have open and honest conversations about how to split assets, arrange custody, and settle other issues. The more you can compromise and agree on, the quicker it moves.
  • Organize documents – Don’t delay providing all the financial statements and paperwork requested. Being organized helps.
  • Use a mediator – If you’re stuck, bring in a mediator to help facilitate negotiations and settlements.
  • Avoid unnecessary disputes – Pick your battles and let go of petty disagreements that will only slow things down. Focus on the big stuff.
  • Line up professionals – Get needed appraisals, business valuations and other expert analysis done early.
  • Lean on your lawyers – Don’t be afraid to lean on your attorneys to keep the process moving efficiently.

While you can’t force a divorce to happen overnight, keeping these principles in mind will help expedite what can be a lengthy process. With focus and perseverance, you’ll get through it as quickly as possible!

Common Questions

How long does an uncontested divorce take?

For an uncontested divorce with minimal assets and no disputes, you can often finalize in 3-6 months. But you still have to wait out your state’s required waiting period, which adds time. Streamlining the paperwork and using a mediator helps too.

How long does a contested divorce take?

Contested divorces where the spouses fight over issues like custody, alimony, and division of assets can take 1-2 years. Attempts at negotiation and mediation are made first. But unsettled disputes have to go through litigation and trial, which drags it out.

How long does a divorce take if both parties agree?

If both spouses are amicable and agree on the divorce terms, you can typically get divorced in 6-9 months. You both still have to wait out the state’s required waiting period. But agreeing upfront avoids lengthy disputes down the road.

How long does an uncontested divorce take in California?

In California, an uncontested divorce with agreement on all issues takes at least 6 months. This is due to California’s mandatory 6 month waiting period. Even amicable divorces must wait out this timeframe before officially finalizing.

How long does it take to get a divorce date after filing?

It usually takes 1-3 months after filing to get a court date for the final divorce hearing. First, the waiting period has to pass. Then your lawyer files for a final court date, which the court schedules based on availability – often 1 month out.

How long does it take to get divorced if you both agree in Texas?

Texas has a 60 day waiting period. If you and your spouse agree on the divorce terms, you can finish the paperwork and get the judge to approve the decree relatively quickly after that. So the divorce can be finalized in about 2-3 months if uncontested.

Key Takeaways

  • Typical timeline is 6-12 months, but can vary based on complexity and how contested it is.
  • State laws like waiting periods, residency requirements, and court backlogs impact timeline.
  • The more issues you agree on upfront, the quicker the divorce can happen.
  • Contested divorces with disputes can take 1-2 years.
  • Being organized, using mediation, and compromising can help expedite the process.
  • Even amicable divorces take some time to complete due to state laws.

Going through a divorce is never easy. But understanding the typical timeline and how your case factors in can help set expectations. With focus and perseverance, you’ll get through it as efficiently as possible. Remember to be kind to yourself throughout the process too!

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