By Brandon A. Prenger, Attorney
The Gasper Law Group, PLLC
One of the most commonly asked questions concerning a divorce is “how soon can I be divorced?”
Everyone has heard the horror stories of a divorce that drags out for years. Even so, most people expect it to be a matter of weeks after the papers are filed before they are free, single and ready to mingle. Who decides how long a divorce takes? Is there anything you can do to help speed the process up? What are the factors that govern how soon a divorce is over?
First and foremost, there is a statutory waiting period. If the parties agree on everything 10 minutes after filing for divorce, they still must wait 91 days to receive a decree of dissolution from the Court. This 91-day clock starts ticking from the time that the Petition is served on the non-filing party. So if you are planning on getting divorced, first you should plan on getting an attorney to guide you, and then you should plan on waiting at least 91 days.
Secondly, your divorce is dependent on the Court’s schedule. The Court is not very flexible when it comes to setting hearings. Some divisions, depending on their volume of cases, can set your case for its final hearing within a few months of filing your petition. Other divisions have at least a 6-7 month waiting period for you to get your day in court. So if you plan on getting divorced, hope that you are assigned to a fast division.
But wait, you ask, if I get a slow division, do I really have to wait 6-7 months to get officially divorced? Not at all. The third and final factor that governs your divorce’s time frame is you. If the parties can negotiate and come to an agreement on every issue of contention in the case, it is very likely that you can be divorced after approximately 91 days. All that your attorney will have to do is draft and file a Separation Agreement with the court along with an Affidavit of Non-Appearance. These documents will allow you to get a divorce in approximately 91 days without having to appear in court. If there are children involved, you might have to appear for an uncontested hearing, but these are very short hearings and can be set quickly. If, however, there are few or no agreements, then the court will have to decide the issues at a hearing, at which point you are at the mercy of the court in terms of scheduling. Ultimately, the length of a divorce boils down to how contentious the parties make the case.