Divorce can be a complex, time-consuming, and stressful process. However, there are some ways that you could potentially streamline your divorce case and finalize it sooner than you may initially expect. If you are concerned about the time your divorce will take to finalize, it’s a good idea to consult an experienced St. Louis, MO divorce attorney as soon as possible once you have made the decision to divorce. The right legal counsel can have a significant positive impact on your divorce case and ultimately help you save time and money in handling the process.
Estimating the Time Required for Your Divorce in St. Louis, MO
As you begin the divorce process, there are a few factors you should consider to help you estimate how long it will take you to finalize the process. First, it’s important to note that the absolute soonest you can finalize your divorce in Missouri is 30 days from the date your divorce petition is filed. This is typically only possible in certain situations, such as an uncontested divorce in which both spouses work together to finalize their divorce agreement. The process will take much longer in most cases. The factors you should assess to determine how long your divorce case is likely to take include:
- Whether you and your spouse have children together. A child custody determination will certainly extend the time required to finalize your divorce. The St. Louis, MO family court must ensure your child custody agreement serves your children’s best interests.
- The amount of shared property you and your spouse own together. Missouri upholds an equitable distribution law when it comes to dividing marital property in divorce. If a judge must rule on property division, this will extend the time required to complete the divorce process.
- How agreeable you and your spouse are toward one another. Willingness to compromise has a major impact on the time required for divorce to finalize. If you and your spouse cannot agree on much, this will inherently require more time as it will be more difficult for the two of you to work through the issues that require your attention in the divorce process.
- Your willingness to explore alternative dispute resolution. Divorce mediation has become a popular choice in the US because it provides a swifter alternative to divorce litigation. If you and your spouse are willing to negotiate, both of you can save a substantial amount of time and frustration by taking advantage of mediation.
- Extraordinary factors, such as domestic violence, substance abuse, mental illness, or disabilities. These issues may require more extensive legal proceedings, some of which may involve criminal charges against you or your spouse.
Once you have assessed these factors with the help of an experienced St. Louis, MO family law attorney, you should have a rough estimate of how long your divorce case is likely to take before it reaches a conclusion.
Mediation Vs. Litigation
Alternative dispute resolution such as divorce mediation almost always provides faster results than litigation. If your divorce case goes to court, you and your spouse may spend months or even years in legal proceedings. This not only extends the time required to complete your divorce but will also lead to more substantial legal fees for both of you. By comparison, most couples who take advantage of mediation can complete their divorce negotiations within a few weeks or a month or two.
Hiring the right attorney is an important factor in streamlining any divorce case. Your St. Louis, MO divorce lawyer should recommend alternative dispute resolution, even if it will be possible to only cover a few of the issues your divorce entails before proceeding to litigation to handle the rest.
Some couples can expedite their divorces through the joint-petition divorce process. This option is only available if you and your spouse agree to everything and are willing to work together throughout the entire process. If you do not have children together and have minimal shared assets, it’s possible to secure your divorce order as soon as the 30-day waiting period expires. More complex joint-petition divorces typically take 45 to 90 days to finalize.
When you file a standard divorce petition, the court serves the necessary paperwork to your spouse and provides them the opportunity to respond. If the divorce is contested in any way, the case will proceed to litigation or through alternative dispute resolution. With a joint-petition divorce, the couple submits their proposed parenting plan, agreement for distribution of their marital assets, and other required forms to the court, and the court will then skip the preliminary hearing phase and set a date for a final hearing.
Tips for Speeding Up the Divorce Process
If you are set on streamlining your divorce proceedings as much as possible, it’s first important to acknowledge that some aspects of the process will be entirely outside of your control and may take longer than you would like. For example, if you have a highly contentious custody determination, this can dramatically increase the time required to finalize your divorce. High net worth divorce cases also tend to take longer than other divorces. If you want to make the process as quick as possible, the following tips may help:
- Start compiling your records and material evidence as soon as possible once you decide to divorce. This is especially true for your financial disclosure.
- Be willing to compromise. If you want to expedite your divorce, alternative dispute resolution like mediation offers the best chance of success as long as you are willing to negotiate.
- Hire the right attorney. An experienced St. Louis, MO divorce lawyer will be your best available asset if you are determined to streamline your divorce. They can provide valuable legal guidance and help you take advantage of available legal options to secure your divorce order faster than you may initially expect.
Most people who undergo the divorce process will say that it is one of the most challenging and stressful experiences of their lives. If you have concerns about how your divorce case is likely to unfold, or if you want the best chance of streamlining the process and securing a swift result, it’s best to contact an experienced St. Louis, MO divorce lawyer as soon as you have made the decision to end your marriage.