How long does a divorce take?

When you start talking to other people who’ve gone through a divorce, it doesn’t take long for the question to come up. How long did your divorce take?

Well, thank you for asking. My divorce was over the course of a year and a half. We went through the separation, divorce process, mediation process, and appeals process. It was well over 2 years from our separation to the finalized divorce.

But you’re looking for some idea of what to expect. For some realistic expectations, right? The answers come back and every one of them is different. That doesn’t help. 

How long does a divorce take?

It depends. 

There are many factors that would determine how long it takes. There’s no easy answer. Besides, the question you really want to ask is how long your divorce will take? The answer is unique to each relationship. I mean, I really couldn’t answer that question. 

No one can. Anyone telling you otherwise isn’t considering the uniqueness of your divorce case.

A simple divorce in the United States involves a filed divorce petition followed by a hearing then a divorce decree is issued. Filing can take just a couple of days. Please, don’t try this without legal representation if you have children or other significant property.

Determine how you’re going to hire a divorce lawyer. 

I suggest a few questions in another blog post called, “What to ask a divorce lawyer at the first meeting?” One of those should be about how much is the divorce lawyer costs.

Divorce lawyers can provide their estimates for rates, but that still doesn’t determine how long the divorce case would take. There’s just no way to determine that. 

All you can do is get some kind of ideal estimate of what your divorce lawyer charges. They’ll be able to guide you on what you need to do until you were into the case.

Is there an average of how long a divorce might take?

It varies by jurisdiction. There are 2 levels of jurisdictions: state and city. 

Each divorce lawyer will charge different rates and you may never need to actually go to court. You can’t know in advance if you ever need to go to court. 

What kind of divorce will you have?

Divorce types are just one factor in finding how long divorce takes. You can divorce in mediation and have different costs with collaborative divorce lawyers. 

If you’re in a small district, I recommend a collaborative divorce because it can be much faster. Judges may listen to hearings in multiple jurisdictions. This then limits their availability in the schedule.

If you or your divorce lawyer gets the paperwork filed on time, then you can get put on the court’s docket, a list of court cases. 

What if something goes wrong?

The judge can get sick. You may not make it to court. What if for some reason the paperwork doesn’t get filed on time? You’d need to wait for the next opening in the schedule. That could be 3 months of waiting to do something.

Collaborative divorces and mediation can eliminate the judge entirely. Each divorce case is different. 

If you have an uncooperative spouse fighting you, you know they’re not interested in cooperating. That makes the divorce take longer. 

A lot of court systems will require at least one mediation. Many times, it only takes one but it may drag out.

How long does divorce mediation take? 

Mediations can vary too. You schedule your meetings with your spouse, each of your divorce lawyers, and the third-party mediator. They take whatever time the meeting takes. They can be quick or drag out. 

I recommend working collaboratively in mediation. It’s always going to be easier to work with your spouse but things can still get delayed by the coordination needs.  

Is there a minimum length of time for a divorce? 

What’s the starting point? This answer would depend on where you’re located and how many divorce lawyers you or your spouse have.

Collaborative divorce lawyers work to get everyone cooperating with one another. Best case, the mediation may be a minimum of 2 hours. It still takes several months before the divorce is finalized. 

A more realistic expectation is that mediation could take an entire day. It varies according to what you and your spouse have to go over. Large purchases and children don’t require as much time for mediation as shared businesses and other assets.

My divorce mediation took several hours over 2 meetings. Our discussions included our real estate, businesses and other assets. 


So how long does divorce take? It depends. There’s your answer. There is no answer. Unfortunate but true. It depends on court jurisdiction procedures, the cooperation of all involved and local laws. 

Your divorce case could be easy but that doesn’t mean it goes smoothly. The divorce process can hit a few snags beyond anyone’s control and it can’t be helped. You’ll need to be as flexible as when your drive includes a road closure on your planned route. 

On the other hand, your divorce could be messy. It can get messier than a car accident leading to a truck spilling hagfish over the road and cars causing traffic to stop dead in its tracks. 

There is no way of predicting how your divorce case will proceed so there is no way of predicting how long your divorce might take. 

Are you looking for a good divorce lawyer? Get a list of questions you should ask sent to your email. Just let me know where to send it below.