When a couple decides to split up, they usually want to get it done as quickly as possible. Getting a “quickie divorce” can be rather easy in some circumstances, but some states have restrictions that slow things down. Plus children or large assets will often slow things down.
Cooling off periods slow divorce in many states
Most people today get what is called a no-fault divorce. That means the couple simply chooses to separate and end their marriage. Usually, they just have to explain to a judge that they have “irreconcilable differences” and no longer wish to be legally bound together. In many states, a couple also has to also live separately for a period of time before they can get a divorce.
This living apart requirement creates a “cooling-off period” where a couple is living separately but still legally married. Six months is a typical cooling-off period, though many states have no such requirement and many states have a longer time period. In a state without this cooling off period, a divorce can be granted almost immediately unless there is property or children to deal with.
Property and children slow divorce
When issuing a divorce decree, a judge must typically also settle any issues of property division and child custody. This is where divorce really gets slowed down. To get a divorce done as quickly as possible, a couple should agree on how they want to split up their assets and ask the judge to just approve their agreement. If a couple requires a judge to step in and divide up their property, then that court proceeding can take months or even years to be decided. This can be an impediment if you looking at obtaining a quickie divorce. Couples can use negotiations between their lawyers or mediators to find an agreement before taking their proposal to court.
Shorter time periods for no kids
Courts that handle divorce are very focused on children. In many states, divorces are handled by a specific family-law court, and in others the general state trial courts handle divorce. Children are a big concern because in most cases nobody is specifically looking out for the best interests of the child. Each parent is looking for the best possible outcome for themselves, and while most parents will do what is best for their kids a judge just wants to make sure that is the case and a parent is not using the kids for leverage. Because kids are such a complicating factor, many states offer faster divorce to couples without kids. A quickie divorce is a stronger probability if there are no kids involved.
It could be easier in another state
One way to dodge burdensome divorce requirements is to go to another state. The challenge with that is that in most situations only residents can file for divorce, and establishing residency can take many months. Nevada became a popular destination for divorce when many states were still not allowing it, for example, because you can establish residency in Nevada in just six weeks. According to a survey done by the American Bar Association, Nevada is still the quickest place to establish residency. Nevada requires a one-year separation, though. So even in Nevada a divorce may not be that quick unless you can convince the judge you have been separated from your spouse for a long time.