How Long Does a Divorce Take?
This is a reasonable question. However, it can’t be answered with certainty. It depends on each specific marital situation. Many variables can impact a divorce’s length.
Divorces take a wide range of time to complete. One one hand, the quickest can take as little as four to six weeks. If a couple completely agrees on all divorce issues and they work together from the start, it can be this quick. On the other hand, the longest, most contentious divorces can drag on for years.
A divorce that goes all the way to trial, without any extensions, can take roughly six months to a year from start to finish. However, the length of a divorce can also vary based on the court’s schedule. Unfortunately, this is beyond a spouse’s control.
Five Factors that Influence Divorce Length
How long the process takes is influenced primarily by five factors:
- The first spouse and how cooperative or combative he or she is. The more combative, the longer it will be.
- The second spouse and how cooperative or combative he or she is. The more combative, the longer it will be.
- The first spouse’s lawyer and how well he or she facilitates settlement while still protecting client rights. More aggressive lawyering typically means a longer process.
- The second spouse’s lawyer and how well he or she facilitates settlement while still protecting client spouse’s rights. Again, the more aggressive lawyering typically means a longer process.
- The number of disagreements and severity of the disagreements between spouses on divorce issues (child custody, spousal maintenance, property division, etc.). The more disagreements and the wider the divide, the longer the process.
Please keep in mind these are “on average” estimates. Having an overly aggressive lawyer doesn’t necessarily mean a divorce will go longer.
To manage these, each spouse should control their own behavior. It can also help to select divorce lawyers who will work towards a peaceful outcome. However, one spouse can’t control how the other and his or her attorney will behave.
Reaching Agreement Ends the Process
If spouses reach agreement on all issues at any point during the process, the couple or their lawyers can draft that agreement. Then, if the judge signs off this agreement will become the Judgment and Decree for the divorce.
In these cases, the proposed decree is drafted by one of the attorneys. Then, the parties and their attorneys review it and propose changes. Finally, when all parties have signed, a lawyers submits it to the judge for final approval.
After the judge then signs off on the divorce decree, the court enters judgment. Then, the court gives the parties notice, usually within two weeks, that the divorce process is completed.
For other divorce or family law questions, please consult the list to the left or the FAQ page. If you’re interested in retaining an attorney to help you, please feel free to contact my office for a consultation using the contact information on the left or the contact form on the Majeski Law home page. For more general questions about the divorce process, review the Minnesota Courts help page.