When you want a divorce, it can’t happen fast enough. But, when you don’t want it or aren’t prepared, it can pull the rug out from under your life. The time it takes to get a divorce depends on a lot of factors — some within your control and some not. One thing that is always within your control? How wisely you use the time you have to prepare once divorce is inevitable.
Regardless of your initiative, mere compliance, or opposition concerning your divorce, your desire and need to know a timeline are understandable. Everything about the divorce process and its aftermath is time-sensitive.
Your first instinct is going to be to consult with “Google & Google, LLP.” Starting your research at the most obvious place makes sense.
But be careful and discerning as you collect information. Google can be a veritable rabbit hole, leading you from a general search with reputable sources to a downslope of information, advice, and questionable links. And it can quickly become overwhelming.
Anyone who has had to do academic research knows the cardinal rule of using primary sources. The reasoning is obvious: to avoid the dilution, changing, or skewing of information.
Educate Yourself with Up-To-Date Information
Online research is no different, but has the added considerations of fast-paced change and, unfortunately, a maddening dose of questionable integrity.
Just be careful and always consider the source. (Besides, the detailed, specific information you ultimately need will come from your team of experts – your divorce coach, attorney, financial planner, etc.)
Also, take note of dates on articles and be cautious about giving any information. You are getting educated and collecting information. Nothing more.
Google is a great place to get your compass pointing in the direction of familiarization and the reliable resources that will guide your journey.
You may have even found this site SAS for Women through a general search. But, as you click through our website, you see that it is thoughtfully, thoroughly, and securely developed. And the information shared here is consistent, reliable, and based on trustworthy sources.
This is the kind of confidence you need and deserve to have in your resources when the difficult time comes to get a divorce.
Again, always consider the source.
Your approach to getting educated about the divorce process can make a huge difference in the smoothness and outcome of your divorce.
It will directly influence your confidence and ability to deal with the inevitable stress of this life-changing process.
It will potentially help you save money and time and avoid making mistakes.
And it will lay the groundwork for how you move forward – and the people who become part of your life – after your divorce is final.
How Your State Affects Your Divorce Timeline
Your first online search should be for your state’s divorce process – and specifically its residency and waiting-period requirements.
Every state will have its own laws regarding how long you have to live in the state before you can get a divorce. It will also have its own requirement (or lack thereof) regarding how long you have to wait before your divorce can proceed and be finalized.
In Texas, for example, the petitioner has to have lived in the state for at least six months prior to filing. Texas is one of the states that also have county residency rules.
Texas also has a “cooling off period” of 60 days from the date of filing. Why? To make sure one spouse or both spouses aren’t rushing into a “forever” decision because of a temporary and/or reparable period of discord. (This is especially understandable when children are involved.)
What this means is that, if you live in Texas, and choose an uncontested divorce vs. a contested divorce, you could be divorced in as little as 61 days.
However, if you and your spouse have points of contention regarding custody, assets, fault vs. no-fault, etc., you will add on both time and expenses.
California, as notorious as it is for the “Hollywood” marriage-divorce-remarriage-divorce cycle, has a six-month waiting period for divorce – one of the longest.
New Jersey, on the other hand, has no “cooling off period.” While a typical divorce involving children and assets takes about a year, a simple, no-fault divorce could be complete in weeks.
State-by-State Residency and Waiting Periods
Getting familiar with your state’s laws for the divorce process is one of the best and easiest ways you can help yourself. (Paul Simon wasn’t kidding when he sang 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover!)
Some states, for example, have long residency and waiting periods and may even have required separation periods and parenting classes. Have a momentary lapse in confidence and come back together for a let’s-make-sure weekend of cohabitating? The clock will start again.
If you’re looking to get a divorce quickly, living in states like Vermont, South Carolina, and Arkansas could test your patience.
Read more about the fastest and slowest states for getting a divorce to get a sense of where you stand.
Divorce is no stranger to the DIY approach. While you can find all the necessary forms online if you and your spouse decide to go that route, please be careful! If there is anything that could be a point of contention or complication, you are better off with legal representation.
Even if you choose a non-litigated path like mediation, you would do yourself good service by getting a legal consultation. And, whether you are simply “consulting” or hiring an attorney for the entire process, avoid hiring cheap divorce lawyers.
Even couples without years of accrued investments and complicated finances will have financial considerations, usually outside their areas of expertise.
Protecting Yourself Against DIY Divorce Mistakes
The disparity in income levels, years in or away from the workplace, years spent as a stay-at-home-parent, retirement funds, health/life insurance, mortgage – it all matters. And it all has relevance far into the future.
Women especially tend to take a hard hit financially after divorce, and they don’t always regain their financial footing. Their loss can be almost twice that of men and is often accompanied by a number of post-divorce surprises.
As you can probably see by now, that innocent question, How long does it take to get a divorce? doesn’t have a simple answer.
Some things you can control. Some things your spouse controls. And some (many) things your state’s laws control.
Remember that knowledge is power – or at least an analgesic to the inherent stress of getting a divorce
Remember also that the time it takes to jump through all the hoops of the divorce process says nothing about the time it takes to recover from a divorce.
But how you educate yourself, and the integrity and composure with which you navigate your divorce can influence everything, including your divorce recovery, the new chapter you deserve.
Since 2012, smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to partner with them through the emotional and often complicated experience of divorce. We invite you to learn what’s possible for you. Schedule your FREE 15-minute consultation with SAS. Whether you are dealing with divorce or are already navigating your life afterward, choose to acknowledge your vulnerability and learn from others. Choose not to go it alone.