How long does divorce take? This is one of the most frequently asked questions by spouses seeking a divorce. While every state has its guidelines for what happens once a spouse files for divorce, no two states will have precisely the same procedure. The type of paperwork involved, and the type of support awarded will differ significantly from state to state, as will the time limits and other variables between different courts. There are some things you can do to make getting divorced easier, though.
First, you must take all of your paperwork to the judge at the first court appearance, regardless of whether it’s your initial appearance or the day after. Most judges will require a couple of months’ worth of paperwork to determine whether you qualify for a contested divorce, and some will extend this requirement to a year or more. For instance, if you and your spouse have been living together for less than three months, the judge may not even grant you divorce because it may not be in his or her best interest to do so.
Once you have been granted an uncontested divorce, you can move forward with filling out the divorce forms. Your uncontested forms will include the name of your spouse, the names of any children under 18 that you or your spouse have, your correct address (custodial home), alimony, child custody arrangements (if applicable), any assets that you or your spouse possess, and other information that the judge feels is relevant to the case. You can file these forms with the county where you live or with the court clerk where you filed the original divorce papers. The clerk may also give you the forms, but you’ll need to follow their instructions to the letter. Many people underestimate the amount of time it takes to fill out these forms correctly, so it is better to make sure you do everything right from the beginning.
During the waiting period following the filing of the divorce papers, you’ll want to stay calm and composed. Keep in mind that your spouse probably isn’t happy because you are filing for a divorce, but you need to keep calm and collected. Take some time to think things through before making any decisions, particularly about child custody and alimony. Be sure to spend plenty of time with your children during this waiting period, and make sure they know your situation. While the filing is the essential part of the entire divorce proceedings, the waiting period can make the filing seem like a distant memory.
How long does it take to get a finalized divorce? Divorce hearings typically last between two and four hours, depending on the judge’s schedule. It is common for the judge to request that both parties attend the hearing, but this isn’t always the case. In all cases, the judge will require that you submit any documents or financial information that he or she has requested before the final hearing. Unless you can provide this information after the hearing, the judge will not issue a final decision and continue the divorce proceedings.
What is the final divorce decree? Once the divorce hearing is concluded and the judge has issued a final decree, you and your spouse will be asked to sign the document. Depending on your circumstances, either party may choose to have a lawyer draft the final decree, or the plaintiff and the defendant may decide to have a translator write the document. You should have no problem getting the signing documents within a few weeks of the final divorce decree. Typically, a month or so after the decree is issued, the spouses can move back into the marital residence.