How Long Does a Divorce Take?
Although this is a reasonable question, it can’t be answered with certainty. It depends on your specific situation.
Divorces take a wide range of time to complete. The quickest can take as little as 4-6 weeks. These occur the couple completely agrees on all issues and the work together from the start. 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 vary greatly based on the Court’s schedule. Unfortunately, this is beyond your control.
5 Factors that Influence Divorce Length
How long the process takes is influenced primarily by five factors:
- You and how cooperative or combative you are – the more combative, the longer it will be.
- Your spouse and how cooperative or combative s/he is – the more combative, the longer it will be.
- Your lawyer and how well he or she facilitates settlement while still protecting your rights – more aggressive lawyering typically means a longer process.
- Your spouse’s lawyer and how well he or she facilitates settlement while still protecting your spouse’s rights – more aggressive lawyering typically means a longer process.
- The number of disagreements and severity of the disagreements between you and your spouse on divorce issues (child custody, spousal maintenance, property division, etc.) – the more disagreements, and the wider the divide between you, the longer the process.
Keep in mind these are probabilities. Having an overly aggressive lawyer doesn’t necessarily mean a divorce will go longer.
To manage these, you can control your own behavior and can select a divorce lawyer who will work towards a peaceful outcome. However, unfortunately you can’t control how your spouse and how his/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 the agreement that will become the Judgment and Decree for the divorce.
In these cases, the proposed decree is drafted, the parties and their attorneys review it, and then when all parties have signed, it is submitted to the judge for final approval.
An agreement signals the beginning of the end of the divorce process, unless there is some dispute about the agreement itself.
The judge then signs off on the divorce decree, the judgment is entered, and the parties will be provided with notice, usually within 2 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.