One of the most common questions a new or potential client has is how long their divorce will take. There is no standard answer to this question and it almost entirely depends upon the actions of the divorcing parties.
Primarily, there are two different ways divorces can be finalized. The first way is by agreement of the parties. The parties hire attorneys and the attorneys negotiate a settlement agreement. One attorney usually drafts and then the other attorney will review the proposal with their client. The attorneys will pass the settlement proposal back and forth, and once everyone is in agreement to the terms, the document can be finalized. It is hard to estimate how long this process takes; it highly depends upon the availability of the parties, the availability of the attorneys and how agreeable the parties are with each other and the draft proposal. Sometimes this process takes weeks, sometimes it takes months. However, once the agreement is final and signed by the parties, we can often obtain a court date to finalize the divorce as early as within seven days of the document being finalized.
The other way that a divorce can be finalized is by a Judge deciding how all property will be divided, as well as custody and visitation, when it is applicable. This process can take a long time or a short time, it depends upon the complexity of the issues involved and the complexity of the marital estate. If there are minor children, the Court will sometimes appoint a Guardian Ad Litem or Child Representative. These attorneys meet with the parties, the children, ancillary parties, the school teachers, the babysitters, etc. Sometimes they do home visits. It depends upon the complexity of the issues. A Custody case where a Guardian Ad Litem or Child Representative is appointed usually is not a very quick process, as there are usually more complex issues and a lot of work to be done. If there are not minor children involved, the trial date depends upon how fast the parties exchange and complete discovery, and how soon the Court has a trial date available.
There are many variables in determining how long a divorce will take, and the timeline is not easily predicted. However, as a general rule, the more agreeable the parties are, the shorter the time frame the divorce is likely to take.