While each divorce has its own unique set of circumstances, getting from the divorce complaint to the final judgement is an incredibly time consuming process. The general assumption is that divorces are resolved quickly if a couple has no children, no major properties or liabilities, and are able to work together in a civil manner. Not having children would certainly save some time; custody hearings and evaluations take several months on average if the parents can't come to an agreement on their own. Most couples, however, do share properties and debts, which must be properly valuated in order to divide them as fairly as possible.
Details pertaining to each spouse's finances, such as bank records, tax returns and loan statements are exchanged during the discovery process. This pre-trial procedure helps spouses and their attorneys learn as much as possible about the true state of their finances, which is critical to achieving an equitable settlement. If one or both spouses are vague, reluctant or argumentative about handing over certain information, the process could take at least several months. Even under the best circumstances, complex properties such as businesses and retirement accounts require complex valuations that can take weeks to calculate.
Once spouses have exchanged and reviewed the necessary information with their attorneys, a settlement may be achieved relatively quickly through private methods such as mediation. If spouses cannot come to a full agreement, they will have to defer to the courts, which is where the waiting game really begins. Depending on the availability of the judges and their caseloads, it could take up to a year before your case is brought to trial. Furthermore, hearing dates are usually set weeks apart, and even after the trial concludes, the judge may need several days or weeks in order to make a decision.
In addition to the legal procedures and court schedules, the human heart is another critical factor in how soon a divorce can be resolved. More often than not, one spouse is ready to move on long before the other. The one's who's ready to move on has to accept that it may take the other person months, maybe even years, to truly accept that it's over. Of course, one shouldn't have to wait years to be divorced, which is why the courts allow default actions in the case of unresponsive or uncooperative spouses. Still, it's best to take the slow and steady approach whenever possible, especially if you're going to be co-parents after the divorce. While you wait, you should be finding out about your rights and legal options from an experienced divorce attorney. Whether you plan on litigation or private negotiations, there's a lot of work to be done beforehand. Instead of pushing the other person to sign, it's much more productive to gather information and work out a fair settlement offer with help from your attorney. For more information on your divorce rights and legal options,, please speak with the attorneys of Villani & DeLuca, P.C.