There is really no “average” divorce.
Marriage and divorce laws are set by the states, so there are 50 different laws in place. Plus, of course, each couple is different. There are many factors to think about that can make a major difference in whether a divorce takes more or less than the average divorce time.
Quick and easy
Some people can get their divorce completed in a matter of weeks, if not days. There are two main hangups that slow down a divorce.
The first is some type of waiting period imposed by the law. Many states do not want couples to be able to get divorced after one bad fight, so they impose some type of waiting period. The other thing that slows down divorce is disputes over money and children.
One good example of a “quickie” divorce law is in Maryland.
Their Code Sec. 7-103 generally allows for a no-fault divorce to be granted after the couple has “lived separate and apart without cohabitation for 12 months without interruption.”
That just means neither party did anything wrong in the eyes of the law. Each spouse simply wants to dissolve the marriage and go his or her separate way. After a waiting period, the court grants them their wish.
These waiting periods are becoming less and less popular, though. In 2015, Maryland passed a “mutual consent” law to make divorce easier for some couples.
The idea behind the new law is that couples without major disputes should not have to wait an arbitrary amount of time before getting a divorce.
So, under the new law, a couple can get divorced immediately if the couple (1) has no children, and (2) has a written agreement separating their property.
A judge simply reviews the agreement to make sure it is fair, and then in normal circumstances will rubber stamp the divorce.
Dealing with a waiting period
Most couples should expect to deal with a waiting period in their divorce.
Waiting periods come in many different shapes and sizes. In some states, the court simply has to wait a certain amount of time after a petition for divorce is filed, often 30 or 60 days, before it can grant the divorce. This is literally a waiting period.
Many other states have a requirement that spouses must live “separate and apart” for a certain amount of time before they can get a no-fault divorce. This is not technically a waiting period because it does not actually slow down the court process, but in reality, it imposes a waiting period between one spouse moving out and the final divorce.
Research done by the American Bar Association shows that one year is a fairly typical separation “waiting period.” Some states take six months or 60 days.
One way around the waiting period is to move somewhere else, but residency would need to be established in the new location.
Nevada became a popular destination for a “divorce trip” because residency can be established there in just six weeks. Moving to Nevada for six weeks to establish residency and complete a divorce is going to be much faster than waiting the required year in many other states and situations.
Issues to work out
For many couples, the mandatory waiting periods are not the problem. Instead, a divorce can get slowed down by issues that need to be sorted out.
Splitting up a couple’s assets is not always easy. Homes are complicated, for example, because only one spouse can live there but each spouse should get half of its value.
Many spouses cannot afford to pay for their family’s home on their own. Splitting something like a family business can be a nightmare as well.