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How long will it take for the finalized divorce after I respond?

How quickly you can secure a divorce depends upon your state’s laws regarding the dissolution of a marriage. Depending upon certain factors, divorce proceedings can take from three months to two years. These factors include the following:

• If the divorce will be contested or uncontested;
• If you meet your state’s minimum residency requirements for divorce;
• If your state requires a waiting period before filing for or finalizing a divorce;
• If your state requires separate residences for you and your spouse for a specific amount of time

Typically, an uncontested divorce has a smoother path toward success than a contested one. An uncontested divorce tends to be amicable. Both spouses tend to agree upon all aspects of the divorce. They agree that a divorce must occur. They are also on one accord regarding child support, child custody, visitation and property division. Such harmony can lead to a final decree of divorce being granted approximately 60 days after filing the initial divorce complaint.

A contested divorce tends to be more complicated. The spouses do not agree upon anything. Typically, one spouse files for an at-fault divorce. This means that that spouse is seeking a divorce for a specific legal reason. The following reasons can be grounds for a divorce:

• Adultery;
• Desertion for one year;
• Natural impotency;
• Conviction and prison sentence;
• Preexisting marriage;
• Cruel and inhuman treatment;
• Incest;
• Insanity at the time of marriage;
• Habitual drunkenness or drug abuse;
• Pregnancy at the time of marriage (whereby the groom was not the father);
• Incurable insanity

Burden of proof lies with the spouse who initiates the divorce. Once the divorce complaint is filed, then the accused spouse files a response either admitting or denying the allegations. Then, depending upon the Court’s docket, a hearing is generally scheduled within 60 days following the accused spouse’s response. Since the Court will be determining the issues of child support, child custody, visitation, property division and such, time is of the essence. The gathering of all necessary information, documents, witnesses and such should commence immediately. Lacking such information will only prolong the divorce proceedings.

In some states, residency plays a role in determining how soon you can file for a divorce. Typically, minimum residency requirements range from three to six months in many states. However, Alaska, South Dakota and Washington do not have any residency requirements. This means that you can file for a divorce immediately upon moving to those states. Plus, there is only a six-week residency requirement for the spouse initiating the divorce in Idaho and Nevada.

Waiting periods are not mandatory in all states. A waiting period, which is also known as a “cooling off period,” is the amount of time that must occur before filing for a divorce or finalizing a divorce. Typically, it begins as soon as the divorce is filed or when the spouse is served with the divorce papers. The purpose of a waiting period is to give the spouses time to think about ending their marriage.

Not all states require spouses to live apart from each other for a certain amount of time. Spouses can live together while living separate lives. However, some states do have separation requirements that range from six months to a year and a half. During that timeframe, separation means living in separate residences, as well as not having a sexual relationship with your spouse.