Starting the divorce process can be intimidating for a variety of reasons, but one common worry for married couples who want to split is how long it will take. You may feel that staying married but living separate lives is easier than going through legal proceedings.
However, this approach does not offer financial and parental protection for the family, because informal agreements are not enforceable. The good news is that a divorce in Pennsylvania does not have to take long.
In December 2016, the waiting period for filing a unilateral (one party wants it, the other does not) no-fault divorce went from two years to one. You and your spouse must be living apart during this time. However, if you began the divorce or separation process before that date, you still have to wait the two years. If both of you agree to divorce, you only have to wait 90 days. In addition, there are smaller waiting periods for filing other documents necessary to divorce.
The length of your divorce will depend on many factors. Some are out of your control, such as:
- The duration of your marriage
- The quantity and complexity of your assets
- The number and ages of any children involved
- The availability of the court
Determining custody, property division and support payments take time. However, the more cooperative you are and the less contention you have, the faster you can get through the process. You may want to consider alternative resolutions, such as mediation, to help speed up your divorce. Sometimes lengthy litigation is necessary, but having the right lawyer can get things to move as quickly as possible.
For a fault divorce, the process may take longer because you have to prove your spouse engaged in marital misconduct, and your spouse can challenge the case. In short, a divorce can be complete anywhere from a few months to a couple years depending on your circumstances.