It is impossible to predict with absolute certainty how long your divorce will take. A lot of things might affect the divorce process, some delaying it and others speeding it up. You can ask your divorce attorney for an estimate, but in many cases unforeseen complications arise that delay the divorce. Nevertheless, working with a lawyer may help keep the process moving and avoid some obstacles that can trip up the divorce process.
What might affect how long my divorce lasts?
Children: If you and your spouse have children together, the divorce proceedings will be more complex. Divorces involving children require working out parenting plans, custody issues, visitation rights, and child support payments. And before the court will finalize your divorce, it must ensure your divorce agreement is in the children’s best interests.
Contested Divorces: If you and your spouse disagree on even one thing, your divorce is “contested.” Prepare for it to take longer to finalize the divorce. Through negotiations and mediation you will need to work out each point of the divorce agreement. And if you cannot agree to all terms, you may have to take the case to trial, further delaying the divorce process.
Uncontested Divorces: If your divorce is uncontested, however, meaning you and your spouse both agree to divorce, agree on how you will split up your joint property, and agree to all other terms (e.g., child custody and support), then you will spend less time finalizing the divorce.
The Court’s Docket: A docket is a list of all the cases currently pending in front of a court. If your local divorce court has a long line of cases in front of yours, it could be months before the judge has time to see you.
Unable to Serve the Divorce Papers: If the other party has moved out state, it could be difficult to serve him/her with the necessary divorce papers, especially if you do not know his/her current address. In some cases, you might need to hire a private investigator to track down your spouse and serve him/her with the papers. Discuss other solutions with your divorce lawyer. Obviously, the longer this step takes, the longer it will take to finalize the divorce.
How can I expedite the process?
The first thing you should do when attempting to expedite the divorce process is hire an attorney to represent you. Hiring an attorney may help you work through the issues you and the other party may have in reaching an amicable divorce agreement.
Your attorney will also be able to help you file any necessary paperwork in the correct places, avoiding any administrative delays. An attorney can also assist with the discovery process by locating any hidden assets and working with appraisers to place a value on joint property such as homes or businesses. That way, you are prepared for the legal proceedings and can complete them as quickly as possible.
For more advice about divorce in Washington State, contact David J. Crouse & Associates, PLLC at 509-624-1380.