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How Long Does the Divorce Process Take?

By Michael DiFalco

For anyone considering divorce in New York, one of the first questions is how long will it take to get divorced.

Divorce proceedings can vary greatly depending on any shared assets, finances, children, disagreements, and other variables between a couple. No two divorces are exactly the same.

Even what should be a simple divorce can quickly become a complex legal and financial battle. If you’re thinking about filing for divorce, you should expect your case to take anywhere from a few months to a year, or even longer if there are complicated issues or difficult parties involved. 

The best way to estimate the length of any divorce is to consult with a seasoned family law attorney. A divorce lawyer can review your situation and determine the best course of action.

Uncontested Divorce in New York

When it comes to timing, uncontested divorces are the fastest to resolve in New York.

In an uncontested divorce, you and your spouse are in agreement on the terms of how you’ll dissolve your marriage. In other words, these divorce proceedings don’t require a lengthy legal battle or a negotiation period because the division of assets or custody or support are quickly resolved outside of court.

In most situations, an attorney in an uncontested divorce can prepare the agreement and then file the necessary legal paperwork with the court for an uncontested divorce to be processed by the clerks based on a properly completed set of divorce papers.

Though uncontested divorces are often faster to finalize, this doesn’t mean they cannot become delayed. Whenever you have children, the agreement must address custody and child support. Additionally, there may be a need to sell a house or divide retirement assets, which may take time and require legal services to complete.

Without significant hurdles, many couples can complete an uncontested divorce in New York within a few months. If you live in Nassau County or other high-density areas, you should also consider how the court’s calendar could affect the timeline of your divorce. Even after the uncontested divorce papers are submitted, the clerk will likely take several months to review the papers and submit them to a judge.

Contested Divorce in New York

If you and your spouse have a complex marriage or cannot agree on how to divide assets or debts, you may have to file a contested divorce.

A contested divorce simply means that there are issues that have not been resolved outside of court which may require the court’s assistance and intervention in resolving by encouraging a compromise or, if that cannot be done, eventually letting a court decide what happens. 

Whenever both parties can’t agree on dividing property or issues like custody and parenting time or spousal or child support, one solution is to let a court intervene and make those decisions. 

Having a judge involved helps move along the discovery of financial matters and can also encourage a compromise based on the judge’s recommendations. If there are issues that require temporary relief, like access to the children or financial support, a contested divorce case allows each spouse to present their case.

Although litigation in a divorce can take many months, you can rest assured that any point of contention between you and your spouse is heard before a judge who will apply the law to the facts of your case as fairly as possible, even when the other party is not acting reasonably or fairly. 

Typically, a contested divorce will consist of many moving parts, including:

  • Financial discovery and disclosure
  • Temporary motions for support or custody and parenting time
  • Possible temporary orders of protection
  • The appointment of appraisers or accountants to value property
  • The appointment of forensic evaluators regarding custody
  • Compliance and settlement conferences
  • Pre-trial conferences
  • Trial
  • Appeals process

In Garden City, you can expect a contested divorce to take between nine months to a year to resolve. The courts goal is to have cases certified as ready for trial no later than a year after the court is involved. 

How to Streamline a Divorce in New York

To make the process faster, many couples in New York pursue mediation to resolve their contested matters rather than relying on the courts.

Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution involving a neutral third party. Generally, this process is less contentious and more cost-effective, but it only works when you collaborate alongside your spouse to make difficult decisions.

A mediator can help resolve any number of topics, including:

  • Distribution of property
  • Child custody and visitation agreements
  • Spousal support
  • Child support
  • Distribution of marital assets including the house and retirement assets
  • Determination of any separate property claims
  • Division of complex assets 

Mediation is an excellent way for many couples to save time and money and remain positive rather than enter into a messy legal battle, especially when children are caught in the middle. However, it is not for everyone and if your case is more likely to lead to a contested divorce, mediation may not be the best way to resolve the relevant issues.

Making Your Divorce as Stress-Free as Possible 

Aiello & DiFalco represents clients in family law proceedings in Garden City, NY, and the surrounding communities. If you’re thinking about filing for divorce, contact us today for a free consultation.

About the Author
I am a partner at Aiello & DiFalco LLP, and my priority for my clients is to guide them through an arduous court case to provide them with the opportunity to write the next chapter in their life. I tailor my approach to each client’s priorities and positions, and to the extent that matters can be predicted, I will always provide a realistic perspective of how the law could be applied to the particular facts and circumstances of a case. Since I thrive on helping people and solving problems, I bring an optimistic and positive approach to practicing in a very difficult area of law. With more than a decade of experience handling hundreds of cases, I have the ability to get results on the issues my clients view as priorities. When cases or certain issues cannot be settled, I have a solid record of success at trials, hearings, and on appeals. Feel free to contact me for a free initial consultation, I am always available to help.