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How Long Does a Divorce Take?

Divorce can have a physical, emotional, and psychological toll on the parties affected. It also can come with a high financial cost, especially if it is highly contested or drags on in court. 

Most people prefer to go through the process as fast as possible. If you are facing a divorce, you could wonder when it will all be over so you can move on with rebuilding your life. There is no one answer on how long it takes. The time will depend on several factors, some of which are within your control and others that are not. 

The First Factor Will Be State Laws

Some states, like Washington, South Carolina, and Alaska, have laws governing how soon you can file for a divorce after moving into the states. These laws deter people who move to a state because of favorable divorce laws. So, if you live in such a state, you must wait until you qualify to file for divorce or move to a state where you are eligible. 

Other states have a statutory cooling-off period. “While a cooling-off period may seem like an obstacle when seeking a speedy divorce, it is an excellent way of ensuring that people do not move ahead with a divorce in the heat of a moment,” says divorce attorney Galit Moskowitz of Moskowitz Law Group, LLC. Typically, a cooling-off period is between 30 to 90 days. 

Some states may also have a mandatory separation period whose purpose is almost the same as the cooling-off period. States have different requirements for the separation period, but most require at least six months of not living together. The separation period mainly applies in states with a fault-based approach to divorce.

Fault Vs. No-Fault Divorce

There are two main types of divorce; fault and no-fault divorce. The type of divorce you choose will greatly impact how long your divorce case will take. A fault divorce is where one party blames the other party’s conduct as the reason for the divorce. 

Under the fault divorce approach, the party that files for the divorce must prove the other party’s wrongdoing in court. Possible grounds for a fault divorce include desertion, adultery, inability to consummate the marriage, domestic abuse, imprisonment, and insanity. The process of proving fault can be lengthy, significantly increasing the time your divorce takes to resolve. 

The second option for divorce is the no-fault divorce which is way easier and resolves faster. Under a no-fault divorce, neither party has to prove fault. In most cases, no-fault divorce does not require a separation period.

Contested Vs. Uncontested Divorce

There are situations where divorcing parties agree to have an amicable divorce. This is especially true when both parties understand that they do not belong with each other. Additionally, some will choose to have an amicable divorce for their children. Under such circumstances, the process can go pretty fast.

However, amicable divorces are not always possible, especially when the aggrieved parties intend to get back at the other. Most contentions revolve around child custody, property distribution, child support, and spousal support.


The time you spend on your divorce will depend on the circumstances of your case. If you go for a no-fault divorce where you agree to work amicably, your divorce could take as few as nine months. On average, it should take between 12 and 18 months to conclude a divorce.

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