General timeline of divorce

General timeline of divorce

Getting a divorce can be a long and sometimes arduous process. It might not be obvious what the procedure looks like. Here is a general outline of the steps and method to divorcing your spouse.

Basic timeline

  1. Summons and Petition: The summons states the divorce is happening. Then, the petition states why, as well as what needs to be divided and the relief sought. After that, there is opportunity to answer and counter-petition for the other spouse.
  2. Temporary hearings: These are to determine what will happen in other aspects of your life during the divorce process. It can include deciding temporary custody and use of assets among other decisions.
  3. Mediation: This is a process in which the two spouses can try to settle their disputes before an actual trial. Couples can meet with a neutral party to decide how to split assets, determine alimony or custody.
  4. Discovery: This is an investigation to identify issues and exchange information regarding assets and income, along with other financial and nonfinancial attributes of each party.
  5. Settlement: A settlement can occur at any time. If the spouses would like to come to an agreement, this can be arranged at any time before a trial.
  6. Trial: If a settlement is not reached, a trial will occur. This could be either by jury or by judge. Here, you argue your case and tell your story.
  7. Appeals, Modification and Enforcement: All of these occur after the trial. You can appeal the judge’s verdict as well as try to modify the terms of the result. Enforcement comes if you or your spouse disobeys a court or judge order.

Other factors that may affect timeline

There are a few other legal factors that may influence the timeline of your divorce including:

  • Residency requirements
  • Separation requirements
  • Waiting periods
  • Mandatory marriage counseling
  • Extent case is contested
  • Court backlog

All of these attributes and the general timeline are dependent on unpredictable variables. Your divorce may take more or less time depending on your circumstances.