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How long will it take to finalize your divorce?

One of the most dreaded answers in every divorce or child custody dispute is "it depends." What does that even mean? Well, in every divorce certain requirements must be met. These requirements might extend the time it takes for you to finalize your divorce. However, no two cases are the same.

Factors to Consider to Determine the Timeline of Your Divorce

For purposes of this divorce blog post, lets assume that the divorce is contested. You file your Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, along with all the required supporting documentation (if necessary). Now what? Here is a quick list of the top three facts that could increase the amount of time it takes to finalize your divorce:

  1. Children
  2. Investment Property
  3. Retirement or Brokerage Account Divisions

Having a child, or children, could automatically make your divorce take longer to finalize. This is because Kentucky has a law that requires testimony to be postponed for sixty (60) days from the date of service, the appointment of a warning order attorney, or a responsive pleading by your spouse (see KRS 403.044). However, this doesn't prevent you or your spouse from seeking a temporary motion.

Investment properties typically extend the amount of time it takes to finalize your divorce because each party has their own beliefs regarding the value of the property, their interest in the property, and how the property will be distributed (refinance, assumption of the loan, or sale of the property). The information required in order to make reasonable proposals often takes time to collect and prepare. Retirement or brokerage accounts are similar in this regard.

The #1 Driving Force Behind the Amount of Time it Takes to Finalize Your Divorce

The number one driving force behind the amount of time it takes to finalize your divorce - is you and your spouse. If the parties can come to an agreement (Marital Settlement Agreement) quickly, then the divorce could be finalized in as little as a couple of months. If the parties argue over every penny and every section of the proposed agreement, then mediation might be needed to move negotiations forward faster.

If mediation is necessary, then the time it will take to finalize your divorce will be longer. Assuming you and your spouse have legal representation, then you need to get five people on the same schedule. If the mediator is busy, then you could be forced to wait months before a time slot opens up, or be forced to find another mediator. Typically, if mediation is required, you should expend your divorce to take a few months longer.

If mediation fails because the parties disagree with the mediators attempts at settling, then trial might be required. The courts schedule is typically beyond your control. However, if exhibits and witnesses are necessary, then your trial date could be set out a few months. It is not uncommon for these type of cases to take one or more years to finalize.

The Most Common Myth that Does Not Affect the Timeline of Your Divorce

Often, I hear the myth that a married couple must wait sixty days before the decree will be signed. This is incorrect. In Kentucky, the law states, in part, that no decree shall be entered until the parties have lived apart for sixty (60) days and living apart shall include living under the same roof without sexual cohabitation (see KRS 403.170(1)). For most individuals who seek a divorce, living under the same roof is common; however, most have lived without sexual cohabitation which means that the parties can move forward with requesting the court to sign the Decree for Dissolution of Marriage. This is also one of the reasons why uncontested divorces can happen so quickly.

Also, as an added bonus, distribution of property does not generally increase the time it takes to finalize your divorce. Many individuals believe that their divorce will not be finalized until the marital home is refinanced or sold. Generally speaking, this is not true because the Marital Settlement Agreement could simply state what the parties are planning to do with the property - not that it be done prior to decree.

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