This is one of the most common questions asked when a client first comes to my office. How quickly can I get a divorce? Absent special circumstances and permission of the court, Texas law requires a minimum of 60 days between the day you file for divorce and the day the judge signs your final divorce decree. But a 60-day divorce is rare. It happens; it just doesn’t happen very often.
It is understandable to want a speedy divorce. The “need for speed” is typically an emotional one – no one wants to experience the pain that typically comes with divorce. But the pain of divorce begins long before you ever step into the attorney’s office and continues long past the day the divorce decree is signed. The judge’s signature does not magically make the pain disappear.
You should also consider the importance of making good decisions in your divorce relative to other big events in your life. Many couples spend as much as a year planning their wedding, which is a one-day event. The decisions you make dissolving your marriage have long-reaching impact not just for you, but also for your children. It is wise to take the time you need to make informed, unemotional decisions about your family’s future.
So how much time does it take? The answer is different for every couple. But it most often depends on 2 primary factors: whether both spouses can commit to settlement discussions and the complexity of their financial estate. If a couple cannot commit to resolving their divorce outside of the courts, they will be forced to submit to the mercy of the judge’s schedule and the legal rules that dictate information exchange, hearing settings, and trial schedules. A litigated case could take anywhere from 9 months to 2 years or longer. But if a couple chooses a process like the Collaborative Divorce process, they maintain control over the timeline. They can exchange all of the necessary financial information without the formality and gamesmanship of what is called legal “discovery.” They can jointly hire experts to determine the value of a business or a house rather then each hiring their own expert to later testify against one another at the courthouse. The couple can sit down together with a parenting coach to help them develop a schedule that works for them and their children, not a schedule that is a cookie cutter plan designed for parents who can’t work together in the best interest of their children. And with all of this control over time and decisions, a Collaborative Divorce typically takes around 6 to 9 months. I know which I would choose.
Rhonda Cleaves is a Collaborative Divorce Attorney in Collin County with clients in Plano, Frisco, Allen, McKinney, The Colony, and other cities around the DFW metroplex.