How long will my divorce take?

JENNIFER MOSHIER: I’m Jennifer Moshier with Peaceful Family Law, and today I want to address some common questions that every one of my clients has either asked or at least had the question answered during the course of a consultation.

And the first question I have to answer is, “How long will my divorce take?” This question about how long your divorce will take is a really difficult question for any lawyer to answer. The easiest and quickest answer is: Conflict can really exacerbate the length, the cost, and the complexity of a divorce or legal separation. We’ll get to the difference between a divorce and a legal separation later on in this series of videos.

Going back to the length of time, the minimum waiting period in Arizona to complete your divorce or legal separation agreement is 60 days. That is from the date of filing the petition and the service on the other person, to the date the judge actually signs your divorce decree. You cannot get a divorce in Arizona without a judge’s order. So you have to file a petition for dissolution, or in some cases legal separation depending upon what’s more appropriate for your fact pattern, and then you have to serve the other party.

Service on the other party is a completely different topic. We’ll cover more about that in another video as well, but once the other person is served, that waiting period begins. The 60-day wait, however, is not determinative, meaning your divorce can take longer, and often divorces do take longer.

The more complex in terms of assets, debts, or contested issues a divorce or legal separation is and more fraught with conflict the divorce is and the more players involved in a divorce – and I’ll get to that in another video as well, but I can give you an overview: for instance, the other attorney, your attorney, you, the other person, a judge, and possibly expert witnesses or witnesses that can complicate things in a divorce. The more complex those factors all are and the more players involved, the longer your divorce can take.

There are some things you can do to shorten the length of your divorce. First of all, act with integrity. It doesn’t mean you have to be totally nice to the other person, but if you treat them as though you would want to be treated, that may help build the trust necessary so that when and if you go to them and say, “Hey, I want to hire a collaborative attorney, are you interested in collaborative law,” or “Hey, I’d like to do mediation, are you interested in mediation,” they can at least have the basic sense of good faith in your that you’re probably not trying to set them up for a disastrous situation.

People often make mistakes when they don’t know what they don’t know, and they wind up hiring individuals or taking positions in a divorce case that can complicate the situation much more than it needs to be. So if the other person feels like they may not like you or you may not like them, but at least they know they can trust your integrity and your honesty with them as well as your good faith, then you have a greater chance of getting your divorce completed in 60 days.

In collaborative law I frequently do accept collaborative law cases, as do several of my attorney peers. We do find that the lifespan of filing to divorce decree of a divorce matter is definitely shortened; the reason being there is a focus on resolution. Everything from the very inception to the complete product of the decree is focused on: How do we resolve this issue on every single issue? This is unlike any other type of service that an attorney can provide. So that gives you some sense of how long you can expect a divorce in Arizona to take.