Many divorcing people wonder how long their divorce will take, and whether there is anything they can do to speed up the process. RCW 26.09.030 requires that ninety days elapse after the filing of a petition for dissolution of marriage before a divorce decree cam be entered. This means that the minimum length of divorce proceedings is ninety days. The maximum length of time the dissolution of marriage process can take is more difficult to determine. In a highly contentious divorce, including continuances and other delays, the process can take well over a year.
Once the decision to dissolve a marriage has been made, most people want to get out of the marriage as quickly as possible. If your goal is to get your divorce finalized as quickly as possible there are things you can do to speed things up:
- Compromise on the Little Things: This doesn’t mean to agree to any terms or conditions that will make a significant difference in your life, but you should be willing to compromise on issues that won’t. Compromising on issues that aren’t imperatives for you will help you isolate issues that are, and focus your resources on having them resolved.
- Tell Your Attorney: Tell your attorney that one of your main priorities is for the process to move as quickly as possible. Be prepared for them to tell you that it might not always be in your best interest to rush things. That said, even if your attorney does respond in that fashion, at least she will know that one of your goals is to be divorced soon.
- File Early: Ask your attorney to file the petition as soon as possible. As stated above, the petition has to be filed to get the ninety-day-clock to start ticking. Often settlement negotiations start before a petition is filed. Sometimes negotiations are completed quickly and the parties are still forced to wait the ninety days. The sooner the petition is filed, the sooner the courtroom doors are open to enter the decree.
- Be Prepared: Be ready to provide your family law attorney with information and documentation to help them do their job as quickly as possible. Ask them what they want you to provide, and then provide it. They will often need certain information prior to advising you on the best next step. The sooner they see the complete picture, the sooner they can advise you what to do next.
With these tips comes one additional thought – it is not always in your best interest to get a divorce finalized as quickly as possible. A family law attorney will be able to give you advice regarding the appropriateness of quick settlement and finalization of your divorce in your specific circumstances.