Almost every client asks this question when starting the divorce process. Clients who are transitioning between attorneys in the midst of the divorce process almost always ask a slightly modified version of this question: “How much longer will all of this take?” In either case, the answer is not that simple.
The procedural answer is not that complicated. It is possible to finalize a mutual consent divorce in 4 to 6 months, depending on the county in which the divorce is filed. It is possible to finalize a two year separation divorce in about 2 years and 6 months, give or take. The key word is “possible.” While these timelines are achievable in some cases, in other cases, they are unattainable.
What accounts for the difference? The level of litigiousness and the level of cooperation between the parties are the driving forces. When parties have to resolve property or alimony issues before divorcing, they need to get through the discovery process and address any concerns specific to their case. If one party refuses to engage voluntarily, one or more court appearances, and potentially numerous pleadings, may be required to push the matter along. That adds time, and more time in some counties than in other counties, given the court’s docket volume and capacity to process cases.
Keeping these issues in mind should help people manage their expectations as far as timing. It is not practical to rely on what friends, colleagues, or other acquaintances have said was their experience. Each situation is different, and focusing on other people’s experiences is bound to lead to frustration. Instead, speak with counsel and find out what issues are unique to your case, so you can plan accordingly.