How long will my divorce take?  This is one of the most common questions during an initial consultation.  There are many unknowns during the divorce process and the ultimate timeline for the completion of a divorce is one of them.

The earliest timeframe in which you can complete your divorce is 60 days after the Complaint for Dissolution is filed and the Defendant-Spouse has received notice of the filing.  The notice requirement is completed by either having the sheriff serve them a copy of the Complaint or by the Defendant-Spouse filing a voluntary appearance with the Clerk of the District Court.

Once notice requirement to the Defendant-Spouse has been met, there is a 60 day “cooling off” period in which a divorce may not be finalized.  The intention of this time is to allow for reconciliation, if possible.

However, unless your divorce is uncontested (i.e., you and your spouse agree on all the issues at the outset), it’s unlikely your divorce will be completed in 60 days.

After the initial court documents are filed, the common steps in a divorce include:

  • Negotiations and settlement of temporary issues or a court hearing for the court to rule on any temporary issues in dispute
  • Parents must attend a parenting education seminar if children are involved.
  • A parenting plan must be developed through negotiation or mediation.
  • Spouses exchange documentation and information regarding income, assets and debts, alimony, and custody.
  • Attempt settlement negotiations through written proposals or settlement conferences.
  • If settlement is unsuccessful, the parties prepare for trial and a trial is held before the court.
  • The judge issues his or her decision on unresolved issues.

In order to complete these steps, your divorce may take 6 months to over a year to be final.  The timeframe for each phase in a divorce depends on the facts of your case, each spouse’s intentions regarding the timeline, the cooperation in exchanging information, the ability to reach agreements, and the judge’s calendar.

If you or your spouse is considering a divorce, schedule a consultation with an experienced divorce lawyer to discuss how long it may take to complete your divorce.

Angela Lennon