HOW LONG DOES A DIVORCE TAKE?
This is a question I get often. The amount of time it takes to complete your divorce will largely depend upon a few important factors.
How Complex Is Your Estate
If you are self-employed and have one or more businesses, your divorce is probably going to take more time. When you own more than one home, your divorce is likely going to take longer. If you have one or more minor children, your divorce will probably take longer.
How Much Are You Going To Fight
When two people cannot communicate well and are unable or unwilling to find things they can compromise on, a divorce will more likely than not take longer. There seems to be two areas where people fight a lot. The first is about their children. The second is about alimony or spousal support. Some people also want to fight about their stuff. Here is a brief story…
Fighting About Your Stuff
I represented a client in a divorce who wanted to fight and argue over fake, plastic house plants. We spent more than an hour attempting to negotiate how the fake house plants were going to be divided. Long story short, we almost spent more money in fees arguing about plants than they were worth. Do not do this!
Fighting About Your Children
Parents with minor children often have difficulty coming to an agreement about how to share the parenting responsibilities and time with their children. For some reason, during a marriage, parents can work out who's responsible for what and how the children will spend their time. However, when they are going through a divorce, deciding how parenting is going to happen or how the children will spend their time is a monumental, Herculean task.
Fighting About Financially Supporting Your Spouse
When it comes to alimony or spousal support, this is when heated arguments really show up. There are many reasons marital relationships do not work out. Sometimes, there is infidelity or cheating. It seems natural when a partner cheats, the other partner would resist with all their mite providing them with financial support after divorce. It can seem like a slap in the face when a partner cheats and destroys the relationship to have to then pay them ongoing financial support.
Alimony or spousal support is a hotly contested issue in many divorces. The more a spouse resists compromising or agreeing to pay any amount of spousal support, the longer the divorce will take to complete.
Who Are The Lawyers Involved In The Divorce Conflict
When you hire a “pit bull” or “warrior” lawyer to fight for you and to act as your champion in the divorce battle, your divorce is likely going to take longer. Why? There are usually at least a couple of reasons.
One reason might be that the pit bull or “hired gun” lawyer may take an approach to your divorce that includes a lot of legal Motions and hearings. There is nothing wrong with this. It is a perfectly valid approach to problems that arise during a divorce. On the other hand, a divorce lawyer who is more settlement minded and a strong negotiator may be able to resolve an issue without spending a substantial amount of your money drafting Motions and conducting hearings.
If you and your spouse each hire lawyers that believe aggressive litigation in the courtroom, and a long, expensive trial before the Judge, is the best solution for all divorces, your divorce will take longer to finish.
What Divorce Process Did You Choose
Most people are not aware of the wide variety of options people have to get a divorce. The process you choose can have a big impact on how long it will take to complete your divorce. Here are some of the options:
- Collaborative Divorce: Florida statistics show that you have about a 95% chance of completing your divorce in less than 12 months.
- Pro Se Mediation without lawyers: The amount of time it takes is almost entirely within your control. Meetings with your mediator can be scheduled anytime based upon everyone's availability. The work you do in between the meetings is under your control. The amount you want to fight is your choice.
- Kitchen Table Divorce: You and your spouse are in control of the amount of time it takes. This is also sometimes referred to as a “DIY Divorce” because you are doing everything yourself. However, sometimes a Husband and Wife will sit down together and come to agreement on everything and then hire a Mediator or lawyer to draft the settlement agreements and other documents required to complete the divorce. So, you do not have to do everything yourself.
- Informal Negotiation: This can happen with or without lawyers. If no lawyers are involved, this option will look very much like the Kitchen Table Divorce above. If each of you has a lawyer, all of you will get together informally to discuss the issues in your divorce and possible solutions.
- Collaborative Mediation: This is a hybrid approach that combines some of the benefits of Collaborative Divorce with Mediation. Again, you are in control of how long your divorce takes to finish.
- Courtroom Divorce: This is the option where you are at the mercy of the Judge's calendar. The amount of time your divorce will take to finish is dependent upon the Judge's availability for hearings and trial. In some counties, the Judges handle so many divorce cases that hearing and trial dates are being scheduled 3 to 6 months in the future.
So, I hope this helps you understand how difficult it is to answer this question. There are a lot of variables that can impact how long it will take to finish your divorce. Some of the variables are within your control and others are not.
In my experience, setting clear goals for what you want and identifying areas where you are willing to compromise to get what you want can be helpful in getting your divorce finished faster.
Be well and stay safe!