At Porchlight, one of the questions we frequently hear is “How long will my divorce take?” The answer depends on a number of factors: whether your divorce is contested or uncontested, how quickly negotiations happen, whether you settle your case or head to trial, etc. Every case is unique, but in general, divorce usually takes longer than most people expect.
Uncontested Divorce Cases
Uncontested divorce cases typically take two months or longer. First, the couple must agree upon and both sign their divorce settlement documents. This means the couple must agree to the terms of their divorce, have their attorneys draft a settlement agreement, and coordinate their signatures on that agreement. Second, after the couple files their settlement documents, Georgia has a 30-day waiting period in place before the judge will sign off on the final divorce decree.
Contested Divorce Cases
Contested divorces take significantly longer, depending on the complexity of the case, the parties involved, the court calendar, and other contributing factors. The case goes through several stages, all of which add on time. First, the case needs to be filed and served on the other party. Then, the opposing party has 30 days to respond. Next, the six-month discovery window starts. Finally, you can schedule a trial based on the court’s availability. So even without anything unusual happening in a case, you are looking at over nine months for a case that goes to trial. Of course, events can happen that extend that time and delay the trial, so it can take even longer.
The good news is that most divorces do not go to trial. Instead, they settle sometime during the process. Settlement negotiations can happen at any time, but usually, attorneys need information obtained in the discovery process to effectively settle a case. This means that settlement negotiations might not even start until a few months into the case and conclude several months after that. Of course, every case is different. In cases where both parties are motivated to reach an agreement, settlement should take less time. In cases where one party is being unreasonable, settlement takes longer, and the chance of going to trial increases.
Considering Filing For Divorce? Don’t Delay
While every divorce case is unique, and the process depends on the parties, the issues involved, and other contributing factors — you should expect your case to take some time. Given the length of the process, if you are considering getting divorced, it is better to start sooner rather than later. If you wait until you can’t stand your spouse and want to be divorced yesterday, you will be disappointed about the long legal battle you have ahead of you. Certainly, divorce takes planning and preparation, but much of it can be done while your case is pending and you can actually make progress on your divorce.
If you have additional questions about the divorce process or if you need help with your case, you can schedule a Legal Clarity Session by calling Porchlight at (678) 435-9069 or by contacting us here.