Our top pick: 3 Step Divorce
- For uncontested divorces
- Pay a flat-fee of $299
- Ready-to-file divorce forms
- Court approved forms or your money back
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Many factors can affect how long your divorce takes, including where you live, whether your spouse and you see eye to eye and whether you lawyer up. But not all divorces need to take years to finalize. Here’s how long you can expect your divorce to take and ways to help the process along.
On average, an uncontested divorce will take eight months to finalize, according to a 2019 Martindale-Nolo survey. If you have a contested divorce with one dispute, the average time shoots up to 12 months. And the process takes even longer the more issues you have.
For couples that take the do-it-yourself approach and use an online divorce service, your divorce generally only takes as long as your state’s mandated waiting period and processing time, which is anywhere from 30 to 120 days for most states.
But some states — like Nevada — don’t have a waiting period after filing. That means Nevada residents can get their divorce decree as soon as the judge enters it, making it one of the fastest states to get a divorce.
Divorce mediation can take one day or several months, depending on the number of issues you have and how long it takes you and your spouse to agree. One mediation session generally lasts between one and two hours. And your mediation process may require several sessions spaced out over a few weeks or months.
The actual divorce arbitration hearing can take a few hours or a few days, depending on the complexity of your case. But you’ll also have additional meetings, including a preliminary hearing that happens before the big day and executive sessions with the arbitrator that may occur before or after the hearing.
A negotiated settlement can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months to complete. With negotiated settlements, each spouse and their respective attorneys attempt to resolve issues outside the courts.
Unlike a collaborative divorce, these lawyers may not be trained negotiators. So how long it takes for you to get a negotiated settlement depends on how many offers and counteroffers are bounced around before settling.
A child custody evaluation can take one day to a few months, depending on the scope of the assessment. For example, a judge may call for a brief custody evaluation at the courthouse on the same day.
On the other hand, if a judge requests an in-depth evaluation, the evaluator will conduct psychological assessments, interview family members and consult with anyone who knows the family dynamics, such as teachers and therapists. The evaluator then issues a written report summarizing their findings and offering a professional recommendation. Altogether, the evaluation and report may take a few weeks to a few months.
Each phase of a divorce takes time and varies by state law, though couples who are amicable and able to work together can often speed up the process. Here’s an idea of how long each step might take:
Maybe. Some states allow you to cohabitate, while other state laws may require that you and your spouse live apart under separate roofs or set rules on how you live together during the divorce process.
For example, Delaware requires that you sleep in separate bedrooms, while Louisiana says you must live separately.
Here are a few things that can drag out your divorce:
Here are a few tips to expedite your divorce process:
Read our guide to learn more about how to fast-track your divorce.
See how online divorce services stack up against one another.
While most divorces average eight months to a year, you can help the process along. Since uncontested divorces are usually faster and cheaper, you have an incentive to resolve as many disputes as possible on your own to avoid a drawn-out court trial.
Take a look at our guide to getting divorced to learn more about your divorce options.
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Depending on whether you go the DIY route or hire lawyers, it may cost you a few hundred to thousands of dollars.
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One erases the marriage as if it never happened, while the other ends it.
A cheaper alternative to going to court that helps couples resolve issues together.
A state-recognized marital status similar to divorce — but you can’t remarry.
One of the cheapest DIY divorce services — but customer support is currently limited to email.
This highly rated DIY divorce service prepares your legal docs for you — but a lawyer won’t review them.
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