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Frequently Asked Questions: Divorce & Family Law

How Long Does A Divorce Take?

If at the outset the parties have been able to resolve all issues between them, they can file a joint petition for divorce on the grounds of an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, rather than a complaint for divorce. In a joint petition for divorce there is no plaintiff or defendant, there are simply two petitioners. The parties’ agreement on all issues is embodied in a written document generally referred to as a separation agreement. The separation agreement sets forth the parties’ resolution of all matters that need to be addressed: child custody, parenting time, child support, alimony, health insurance, life insurance, division of marital property, allocation of debt, etc. At the court hearing on a joint petition for divorce, if the judge finds the separation agreement to be fair and reasonable, the judge will grant the divorce based upon the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage and will order the parties to be bound by the terms of their Agreement. Upon the filing of a joint petition for divorce, together with all of the required documents (separation agreement, financial statements, certified marriage certificate, affidavit of irretrievable breakdown, care or custody affidavit, parenting class certificates, support guidelines worksheet, certificate of divorce absolute and request for assignment), the case will generally be heard within four to eight weeks, depending on the county.

If the parties have not resolved all issues and are proceeding on a complaint for divorce, cases often take a year or so to resolve, and if not able to be resolved and require a trial, it may take up to two years, or more. During the pendency of a contested case, the court may enter temporary orders, which address such matters as custody, support, alimony, health insurance and other matters that need to be addressed on an interim basis.

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