It is quite common for clients to ask “how long does it take to get a divorce?” The answer depends upon a number of factors. Are there custody issues, do the parties agree on the distribution of assets, do the parties have interests in businesses that must be appraised, do pensions need to be valued? In Indiana there is a sixty (60) day waiting period before a divorce can be granted. But often the divorce will take four to six months on average to be finalized. Because families are often in limbo during this time period, the Courts will often be asked to issue “provisional” or temporary orders. Provisional orders can determine child custody and parenting plans, child support, who will take possession of the marital residence and which party will be responsible for payment of marital debt.
Once a divorce is filed, the parties are required to complete “Verified Financial Disclosure Statement” which are under oath statements which set forth what assets they own and the value of the asset. These disclosure statements must be filed within 45 days after the divorce is filed. Often, in divorce cases, there are questions that need to be asked of the other side, or documents that need to be reviewed to verify asset values, . These discovery questions are called “interrogatories” and “request for production of document.” In almost every case where there are disputed issues, discovery is necessary. Once discovery questions are received, the responding party has 30 days to answer.
Once all of the discovery is completed, and the parties have exchanged information to determine what issues are being presented, or what assets exist, the divorce is ready to be finalized. The parties may have worked all of their issues out by agreement. If the matters are resolved by agreement of the parties, the written “property settlement agreement” is signed by both parties and it is presented to the Judge. At that time the parties will also sign a waiver of hearing, so that the judge will not require them to go to Court, and the Decree of Dissolution will be finalized with the Judge’s approval.
Reaching an agreement significantly expedites the process of obtaining a divorce. If the parties are unable to reach an agreement on their own, they may elect to attend mediation in an effort to resolve the issues in dispute by agreement rather than by a lengthy trial proceeding. Mediation is a very successful way to finalize the divorce, and allow parties to have a say in the outcome of their case.
However, if the parties are unable to reach an agreement, they have the right to request a final hearing. Depending on the Court’s calendar, it may take several months or longer to get a court date. At the hearing, each party will have the opportunity to present their position to the judge. The judge may decide the case that day, or make take the case it under advisement, to consider the presentation and rule at a later date.
So, “how long does it take to get a divorce?” Each case varies as to its simplicity or complexities, as to the parties’ agreement or disagreement on issues, and as to how long it takes to get a trial date and court decision if the parties are unable to agree. When you meet with your attorney, after discussing all of the issues in the case, the attorney may be able to predict a rough estimate of time that it will take to complete your case. However, so many factors weigh in to that estimate, that it is difficult to predict. Fortunately, with a solid Provisional Order, obtained in the first weeks of the divorce, the parties’ can rely on some certainty in their lives, until the final Dissolution Decree is entered.