Q. My biggest issue with getting a divorce is that it might take too long. I’ve heard some divorces can take up to a year. Will this happen to me?
Each divorce is going to be different. There are a lot of circumstances that can come up that can change how long your divorce will take. For example, if there are child(ren) involved, it may potentially take twice as long.
Q. What is the quickest way to complete my divorce?
A judge won’t sign off any final paperwork until 60 days after you have served your spouse. Say you turn in all paper to the judge within a week, nothing will happen until the 60-day period is over. Take into account that the 60-day period does include holidays and weekends.
Q. If I want my divorce to happen quickly, what can speed it up?
The simplest way to speed up your divorce is for you both to agree on everything. If you file your Petition and your spouse doesn’t fight any of the issues, a consent decree can be created and filed with the court without the court interfering.
If your spouse doesn’t respond to your Petition at all, you can petition that a default divorce decree be created. This means that it is uncontested, and again, very little court interference.
Q. How lengthy can my divorce take
There is no timeline that a divorce has to be completed by. Nevertheless, if the judge finds that a divorce has been in the court system for a long time, a hearing will be set to attempt to finalize any remaining issues. The court can also assign you dismissal dates, which specifies you to take action. If you don’t take action, your case can be completely dismissed.
Q. Is there a certain time I am required to serve my spouse with the Petition?
Yes. If you don’t serve your spouse inside of 120 days after filing the Petition, there is a good likelihood your divorce will be dropped. In spite of that, if you are having problems serving your spouse, or they are avoiding service, you can request the court to prolong your dismissal date to give you more time to attempt to serve them.
Additionally, the 60-day time period will not begin until your spouse has been served.
Q. After my spouse has been served, how long do they have to reply?
If they reside in Arizona, they have 20 days, including holidays and weekends, to reply. If they don’t live in Arizona, they have 30 days. If they haven’t replied within those time periods, you can start the default process.
Q. What may cause my divorce to be delayed?
Clearly, if you both can’t come to any agreements, this will considerably delay the divorce. There can also be a variety of 3rd actions that may happen. As an example, you might need to go to an alternative dispute resolution or a parenting consultation, that is like mediation. You can also have 3rd, like best interest attorneys, assigned to your case to look into any child issues that may be happening.
There are a lot of other things that may postpone the divorce. As an example, a hearing can get continuance due to an emergency or dispute. Subject to the judge’s calendar, this can add months to the divorce. There may be disclosure and discovery disagreements. If your spouse isn’t supplying you with the proper documentation, there may be a comprehensive research project happening.
Make sure you are prepared for something to arise. A lot of divorces don’t end in 60 days. It’s not always the case that each party is going to agree on every issue.
And the first question I have to answer is, “How long will my divorce take?” This question about how long your divorce will take is a really difficult question for any lawyer to answer. The easiest and quickest answer is: Conflict can really exacerbate the length, the cost, and the complexity of a divorce or legal separation. We’ll get to the difference between a divorce and a legal separation later on in this series of videos.
Going back to the length of time, the minimum waiting period in Arizona to complete your divorce or legal separation agreement is 60 days. That is from the date of filing the petition and the service on the other person, to the date the judge actually signs your divorce decree. You cannot get a divorce in Arizona without a judge’s order. So you have to file a petition for dissolution, or in some cases legal separation depending upon what’s more appropriate for your fact pattern, and then you have to serve the other party.
Service on the other party is a completely different topic. We’ll cover more about that in another video as well, but once the other person is served, that waiting period begins. The 60-day wait, however, is not determinative, meaning your divorce can take longer, and often divorces do take longer.
The more complex in terms of assets, debts, or contested issues a divorce or legal separation is and more fraught with conflict the divorce is and the more players involved in a divorce – and I’ll get to that in another video as well, but I can give you an overview: for instance, the other attorney, your attorney, you, the other person, a judge, and possibly expert witnesses or witnesses that can complicate things in a divorce. The more complex those factors all are and the more players involved, the longer your divorce can take.
There are some things you can do to shorten the length of your divorce. First of all, act with integrity. It doesn’t mean you have to be totally nice to the other person, but if you treat them as though you would want to be treated, that may help build the trust necessary so that when and if you go to them and say, “Hey, I want to hire a collaborative attorney, are you interested in collaborative law,” or “Hey, I’d like to do mediation, are you interested in mediation,” they can at least have the basic sense of good faith in your that you’re probably not trying to set them up for a disastrous situation.
People often make mistakes when they don’t know what they don’t know, and they wind up hiring individuals or taking positions in a divorce case that can complicate the situation much more than it needs to be. So if the other person feels like they may not like you or you may not like them, but at least they know they can trust your integrity and your honesty with them as well as your good faith, then you have a greater chance of getting your divorce completed in 60 days.
In collaborative law I frequently do accept collaborative law cases, as do several of my attorney peers. We do find that the lifespan of filing to divorce decree of a divorce matter is definitely shortened; the reason being there is a focus on resolution. Everything from the very inception to the complete product of the decree is focused on: How do we resolve this issue on every single issue? This is unlike any other type of service that an attorney can provide. So that gives you some sense of how long you can expect a divorce in Arizona to take.