A divorce is always challenging. It can even be much more difficult to go through, given the conflict between you and your spouse.

You must hire a qualified lawyer to reduce the length of the divorce process. But even with the best lawyer, there is still conflict over financial resources, parental rights, and property to resolute.

So how long does a contested divorce take to go through the courts? Keep reading and look at what affects the duration of the process and how to deal with it.

Let's get into it!

What Is a Contested Divorce?

Contested divorces can take a long time to resolve. When spouses cannot agree on all the terms of their divorce, the process moves to the court system.

Additionally, the timing will depend on the issues the court needs to address and how quickly both parties can resolve them. However, if one of the parties stalls the process, it can take longer.

In some cases, it can take years to be resolved, depending on how complex the issue is. Ultimately, a contested divorce will take as long as the parties or the court decide it will.

The Timeline and Process for Divorce

The timeline and process for obtaining a contested divorce vary from state to state. On average, it usually takes six months to a year to agree. The basic steps of a contested divorce process are:

Filing the Divorce Petition

Typically, filing a divorce petition is the first step. This can take several weeks, depending on the court’s backlog. Once the petition is served, the other party usually has 30-60 days to respond.

Serving the Petition

Once the petition is served, the other spouse can file a response. The length of the process from start to finish is primarily based on how cooperative and organized the two spouses are.

If served properly, the process can be smooth and smooth. If both parties agree on all aspects of the divorce, it can take as little as two months. If not, it'll take six months to two years to finalize.

Responding to Interrogatories

Interrogatories are a type of discovery requested in court. These are used to obtain information from the opposing party to prepare for trial. In a contested divorce, both sides may ask questions that must be answered under oath before responding in court.

Depending on the complexity of interrogatories, they can take a few weeks to several months to answer and prepare for court.

Exchanging Financial Documents

If financial documents must be exchanged as part of the process for divorce, this can add delays to the procedure. There are certain factors to consider to determine how long the exchange of documents will take, which may include:
  • Amount of disclosure required
  • Type of documents exchanged
  • The difficulty of the financial arrangements
In addition, you need to take into account the documents that must be exchanged, such as:
  • Tax returns
  • Earning statements
  • Asset and debt values
  • Bank statements
  • Real estate documents
From there, the attorney for each spouse must review each document to ensure accuracy. However, both parties may use an online platform to transfer documents electronically to expedite this exchange.

Negotiating a Settlement

If the parties cannot agree, the divorce must go to trial, which can be lengthy and costly. On the other hand, if they can come to a settlement, the process can move much more quickly.

Also, the parties must still work with their attorneys to craft a fair settlement agreement for everyone involved. But it would still take less time if the case was trialed.

By agreeing, parties can save time and expense while still getting a final resolution to their divorce.

Appearing in Court

Even if all matters are agreed upon, appearing in court is mandatory, and it can take months to get a court date. The court date is usually relatively short, lasting up to a few hours or a day.

Overall, the time for a contested divorce depends on the marriage's circumstances and both parties' willingness to come to a settlement.

Navigating Your State's Legal Requirements

Documentation of any agreements must be submitted to the court for review and approval. At this point, the court will decide and issue a final divorce decree.

The entire process can be time-consuming and sometimes tug on the parties' resources. Therefore, it is vital to understand the process and prepare accordingly.

Considerations for Shortening the Procedure

Contested divorces can be long and drawn-out affairs. Many factors can affect the duration of the process. However, some steps can be taken to shorten it.

It would be best for both parties to work together respectfully and ensure timely documentation for the exchange in court. They can also work to identify areas of disagreement and narrow the issues that need to be resolved by providing information to help settle without going to trial.

Finally, mediation and alternative dispute resolution can help end matters effectively and quickly.

What to Do While Waiting for a Settlement

The couple will go through discovery, negotiation, and litigation, if necessary, during this time. While waiting for a settlement, the parties involved should focus on their well-being by:
  • Taking care of their mental health
  • Protecting their finances
  • Keep their children's best interest at all times.
Also, the parties should keep organized by documenting conversations and collecting evidence for their respective attorneys. Lastly, reconciliation may be an option, often resulting in a quicker divorce process.

It can help both parties to agree sooner to avoid the delay that litigation brings.

Understanding How Long Does a Contested Divorce Take

The duration of a contested divorce varies greatly depending on the circumstances. On average, it takes approximately 18 months to 24 months, but it could take more depending on your state's laws.

Knowing how long a contested divorce takes will give you an idea of what to expect during the process. With the right team behind you, you can ensure a smoother and shorter journey for your case.

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