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Why is My Divorce Taking so Long?

By: Amy Rebecca Johnson

You’re done. Ready to move on. The marriage is over. So why does it seem like the process to get that piece of paper saying you are divorced is taking forever?

When meeting with clients seeking a divorce, I will often ask them how long it took them to plan their wedding. Why? Because the average time that most engaged couples take to plan their wedding is 13.6 months (according to theknot.com). My experience is that the average time to get divorced is about the same. But why? The short answer is that marriages have many components: separate property, marital property, children, houses, and a lot of emotions. All of this, plus the process in the courts, adds up to divorces taking lots of time to be completed, usually more than one would like.

Here’s a deeper explanation of why divorces take time:

  • The Court. Courts expect things to be done a certain way. That begins with initial document filings, more filings along the way, and certain required steps before a trial date can be set. The court also has many cases set on its docket at one time and has to make time for each case to be heard and considered, whether that’s through settlement or trial.
  • Responsiveness of Opposing Party and Counsel. I can only move as fast as the other side moves. For example, if your spouse and their attorney require additional time to respond to something, or if they don’t respond to a settlement offer (even if it’s a reasonable offer), the process can last longer. And you can’t force someone to settle a case before trial.
  • Agreement of Parties. You might think that an issue is cut and dried, but if your spouse or their attorney thinks differently, there will be more work and discussions on the issue, which can add time.
  • Emotions. Spouses can occupy very different places emotionally during a divorce. The person who may have been surprised by the divorce actually happening is likely emotionally much further away from accepting the divorce than the person who filed. Waiting for the more reluctant spouse to emotionally “catch up” can make the divorce process a longer one than you would like.

The length of a divorce process is largely out of your hands and often out of the hands of your attorney. Understanding the process can help you prepare for the time it takes to get your divorce finalized.

Contemplating a divorce or have questions about the process? Talk to a family law attorney at Paule, Camazine & Blumenthal, P.C. for your divorce needs.

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Amy Rebecca Johnson

Amy Rebecca Johnson

St. Louis attorney, Amy Rebecca Johnson joined the PCB Law Firm to practice in the areas of divorce, child custody, paternity and adoption. Ms. Johnson is also a certified Guardian ad Litem and represents the rights of children in contested family law cases.