Divorce is a stressful and anxiety-producing experience. In addition to the emotional strain of the process itself, couples must deal with the uncertainties involved in ending a marriage. The legal filings and related requirements that go into the process of making a divorce official just add to the pressure. If you’re thinking about filing for divorce, you may be wondering how long it will take. After all, the sooner that you resolve your case, the sooner you can begin focusing your attention forward. Unfortunately, there is no “one size fits all” answer to this question. As an experienced divorce lawyer, can attest, several factors impact how long any given divorce process is likely to take.

Chief among these considerations is whether a divorce is likely to be amicable or not. Contentious divorces tend to take longer to resolve than amicable ones do. Additional contributing factors include state law, the needs of any minor or dependent children, and the complex or straightforward nature of a couple’s property division situation. 

Contested versus Uncontested

A divorce may be contested or uncontested. Although these terms can mean different things in different states, when referenced generally, these terms distinguish whether a couple has fundamental disagreements about their divorce settlement (property division and/or child custody, usually) or not. Contested divorces require judicial intervention, which can be a lengthy reality. Uncontested divorces may be resolved in a matter of weeks or a few months – depending on whether negotiation and/or mediation is required to resolve relevant settlement terms. 

The more complicated the couples’ financial situation, the more difficult it can be to finalize a divorce. Many divorces involve serious disagreements over children. Custody, visitation rights, and child support are three obvious areas of disagreement. Resolving these issues may delay the final divorce past the minimum waiting period required by any given state. 

State Law and Court Proceedings

All states allow for no-fault divorces, which means that the party filing for divorce does not need to give a reason for the divorce. If the other spouse agrees that ending the marriage is for the best, the process can be relatively quick. In fault-based cases, assembling the evidence for abuse, neglect, infidelity or other lawful grounds for divorce takes time.

Most states require a waiting period between filing and the divorce becoming official. This waiting period can be 60 days, 90 days, or 120 days. In Wisconsin, for example, the waiting period is 120 days. After filing divorce papers, the couple or the person filing will likely have to attend one or two court hearings. The timing of those hearings depends on the court schedule, but they may be several weeks apart. 

If you have questions about how long it may take to resolve your divorce specifically, connect with an experienced local attorney to learn more.