How Long Does Divorce Take?

If you are thinking about divorce or have already started the divorce process, you might be wondering how long your divorce will take to be finalized.

The answer essentially depends on the actions and attitudes of both you and your spouse as well as each of your attorneys.

You should first ask yourself how much time, energy and money do you each want to spend fighting over your children and issues such as alimony and the distribution of assets and debts.  If you have no children, or if you and your spouse are able to agree on these issues, your divorce could take a matter of months.

If you have young children, however, it could take longer to establish a mutually agreeable custody and parenting time schedule, as well as how college and other expenses for the children will be paid.

I understand that you might simply want to move on, especially if you have already cut ties emotionally, however, you don’t want to “cut off your nose to spite your face.”  You should make sure that you will be able to meet your needs and achieve your goals for the future.

If you and your spouse are having difficulty agreeing, you should immediately get an excellent lawyer who concentrates exclusively in family law.  When selecting a lawyer, try to get a sense of whether he or she is settlement oriented or prefers to litigate in court.  When you have a skilled and knowledgeable lawyer who is settlement oriented, your divorce is likely to take far less time than if your lawyer starts talking about filing motions and engaging in a lengthy discovery process (exchange of large volumes of financial information).  Ideally, both lawyers should be motivated to help you achieve a settlement that works for both of you.

In my experience in New Jersey, the court will strive to have you complete your divorce in about one year from the time a divorce complaint is filed.  If you are having difficulty agreeing on the issues involving your children and financial matters, however, it could take a bit longer.  Otherwise, if you are able to agree or have successfully used mediation, your divorce could take several months.

That having been said, some factors that could lengthen the divorce process include:  (1)  where custody of children needs to be resolved; (2) when either or both of you owns a business; and (3) where you have significant assets that need to be valued.

Essentially, there is no definite time period within which your divorce will be completed.  The length of time is largely dependent on the actions of you and your spouse and your attorneys, as well as the factors above.

 

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