How Long Does It Take to Finalize a Divorce?
Divorce is often complicated and messy, and before you even start down that road, you want some idea of what to expect.
We are often asked how long it takes to finalize a divorce. The answer to this question will depend heavily on where you live. We are going to look specifically at divorce factors in the state of Texas. If for any reason you need to file your divorce in another state, that can have a serious impact on the timeline involved with your divorce. This info will give you a general idea of how long your divorce will take and what factors can extend or shorten that timeline.
Texas has a couple of rules that impact the length of the divorce process. The biggest factor is the waiting period. In Texas, there is a 60-day wait after the petition is filed before it will be reviewed by the court. That means that if you have the fastest and easiest divorce humanly possible, it will still take two months. That is the absolute minimum amount of time you will have to wait.
Fault vs. No-Fault Divorce
In Texas, you can file for either a fault or a no-fault divorce. A no-fault divorce is a filing that does not assign blame for the ending of the marriage. In other words, you don’t have to prove wrongdoing or marital misconduct. You can simply file for a divorce because you want to. Since you aren’t proving anything to the state, it makes the process a lot simpler. Proving wrongdoing to a judge takes time, so a no-fault divorce can cut weeks and even months out of the process.
That said, you are not obligated to file a no-fault case. If wrongdoing occurred, there are compelling reasons to include that in the filing. It can help clarify the division of assets and child custody when the divorce is finalized. However, proving fault will typically add three to six months to the divorce process. In worst-case scenarios, it can add more than a year. Furthermore, it is notoriously difficult to prove fault in a divorce case. You have to have significant evidence to be successful. You should always consult with your divorce attorney if you think you have good cause for filing for a fault divorce, but in most cases, it’s not worth the effort or time.
In order to initiate divorce proceedings, your spouse has to be formally notified. This is often called serving papers or getting served. Sometimes a spouse will avoid being served. This definitely delays the process, as things cannot move forward until they acknowledge that they have been informed. If this happens, there are professionals who can expedite serving the papers to get things moving.
Another large factor that affects timeline is contestation. An uncontested divorce happens when you and your spouse work out everything for the divorce out of court and sign a contract agreeing to it. Since the agreement is already settled, you simply have to wait for a judge to formally accept the divorce and make everything legal. The 60-day waiting period still exists, but you can be separated for that time and be ready to move on.
Contested divorces are much more involved. This is when you and your spouse cannot agree on terms, and the courts have to mediate. This will usually require multiple hearings. It will also require multiple meetings between you and your spouse (with legal representation present). While an uncontested divorce can be finished in a couple of months, you’re looking at 6 to 12 months on average for a contested divorce.
Let’s recap. If you want to know how long a divorce takes, the average in the state of Texas is 6 to 12 months. That means that divorces, more often than not, are contested. The best way to prepare for this process is to talk to your attorney. Setzer Law Firm in Southlake has been helping Texans through divorce for years, and we can help you too. Contact us, and we’ll get to know your situation to give you clear expectations.