"How long will it take to divorce my spouse?"
It's one of the first questions asked by individuals seeking to end a marriage. Well that depends on the clients, attorney's and the court system. However, when the parties use and are successful in a mediated divorce progresses is entirely in the hands of the parties themselves.
The divorce process can be difficult, time consuming and emotional. Therefore to understand the process may make it less challenging.
A typical Uncontested Divorce follows this process:
· Once you have retained counsel then your attorney shall begin gathering information from you to draft the necessary initial legal documents.
· File Summons and Petition (for Dissolution of Marriage) and formally serve the documents on the opposing party, identifying the nature of your claim and the relief you are seeking... wait 20 days for response.
· Respond to Answer and/or Counter-Petition from opposing party... wait 20 days.
· Participate in court-ordered mediation.
· If the all the matters are resolved in mediation and a mediated settlement agreement is signed by both parties the matter goes to final hearing and the parties marriage is dissolved. Your Divorced!
· Parenting classes are often required in cases where children are involved
A typical Contested Divorce follows the same process as above but after mediation has failed proceeds in the following manner:
· If the matter is not resolved completely in mediation or only some of the issues are agreed to then a Notice for Trial is filed
· Case management conferences
· Discovery is conducted to investigate those contested facts, which are often the central focus at issue in a case. This can be accomplished the hard way (formal written discovery) or the easy way (both parties mutually agreeing to full disclosure)... wait months and months.
· File Motions to Compel relating to failure to provide discovery or for providing incomplete responses to requests
· Hearings on pending discovery requests
· Expert Review is often necessary to sort out facts that cannot be jointly agreed upon by the parties
· Settlement discussions may be had at any point up to and including during the trial, and the parties are encouraged to attempt to resolve their issues without court intervention
· Settlement Conference/Pretrial Conference is often used (again) to encourage settlement on all or part of the issues, and set for trial those issues, which cannot be resolved between the parties
· Trial is typically 1-2 days, depending on the complexities of the case, and affords each party the opportunity to tell his/her side of the story
· Appeals must be timely filed by the party (or parties) who disagree with the final judgment by the Court
In a nutshell, both process will take time to resolve and the amount of time is govern by the parties and the amount of controversy. That is why the courts encourage mediated divorce so that its is the parties who determine the details of the settlement agreement, as opposed to the court imposing its decision upon the parties. It is also understood that parties that can, with the assistance of their attorney’s, mediate an agreement are more likely to follow the terms and less likely to return to court.