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How Long Does Divorce Take?

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Divorce can be an investment in your future. More than just the monetary investment, people often wonder just how long a divorce will take. The answer to that, like many questions in the law, is: it depends.

Divorce can take anywhere from 10 days to over a year. Many states have minimum waiting periods from when your divorce is filed to when it can be approved. Also, if your divorce has a lot of assets to divide, and neither of you want to concede them, your divorce will take longer.

Each state will have its own divorce laws and the only way to know for sure how divorce works in your state is to contact a local attorney who focuses on divorce law.

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State Waiting Periods for Divorce

There are several statutory requirements that could affect just how quickly you may be able to receive a divorce. These include:

  • Residency requirements - At least one spouse must typically be a resident of the state in which the divorce is filed for a certain amount of time.
  • Separation period - Some states require married couples to live apart for a specified time before they are eligible to file divorce.
  • Pre-hearing waiting period - Many states require a period between when the divorce petition is filed and when a hearing will be granted in the courts.
  • Post-hearing waiting period - Some states also require a period after the court hearings have finished to when the divorce decree will actually go into effect.

Each case is different, and there are several factors that could determine how quickly your divorce may be processed.

Below is a list of waiting periods that most couples face during divorce. In some states, these waiting periods apply only to no-fault divorce cases. The periods may be measured from different points in the proceeding depending on the state, too. For instance, in some states there is a mandatory period of separation before a divorce can be finalized, whereas in other states the countdown doesn't begin until the divorce case is filed.

For more information, see the Divorce Waiting Period page or speak with an attorney in your area.

Zero to 20 Days

There is no mandated waiting period for Hawaii, Maine, Minnesota, Nevada and South Dakota.

Oklahoma has a 10 day waiting period (30 days if case involves children).

Florida, Idaho, Montana, West Virginia and Wyoming each have a 20 day waiting period.

30 to 60 Days

A 30 day waiting period is mandated in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Michigan (6 months if case involves children), Missouri and Oklahoma.

A 42 day waiting period is required in Ohio.

And a 60 day waiting period is required in Arizona, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Nebraska, Tennessee (90 days if case involves children) Texas and Wisconsin.

90 to 180 Days

A 90 day waiting period is mandated in Colorado, Connecticut, Iowa, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont and Washington.

A 120 day waiting period is required in Wisconsin.

A 180 day waiting period is the minimum in California, Delaware, Illinois, Louisiana and Virginia (6 months if case involves children).

12 to 18 Months

A year long (12 month) waiting period is required in Maryland, New York and North Carolina.

And the longest waiting period mandated by law is New Jersey, with an 18 month waiting period.

How Waiting Periods Affect the Divorce Process

During these waiting periods, you can try and work out the details of your divorce, so after the waiting period you can smoothly transition into a finalized divorce agreement. But the wide variety of mandated waiting periods helps to illustrate just how different the laws can be between the states.

If you're looking to get your divorce over with as smoothly as possible, may wish to work with a family law attorney who is familiar with your state's laws.

Finding an attorney is easy. Simply fill out the case evaluation form below to arrange an initial consultation with a divorce lawyer near you.

Note: These laws may not be up to date. Contact a local divorce lawyer for the most current information about your state's waiting periods.

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