Timelines & Expectations
How long will my divorce take? How long your divorce will take depends upon a number of factors. The first factor is statutory. The case must be pending for 91 days and, essentially, the case must be at issue for 91 days, which means 91 days after the filing of the case if it’s a petitioner and co-petitioner filing, or 91 days after the case becomes at issue, which means that the respondent is either served with the paperwork or ways and accept service.
There are other timeline and deadlines that the court establishes. You have 42 days in which to prepare and submit your sworn financial statements. You file your sworn financial statement with the court and you provide a copy of the sworn financial statement to the other party. Along with your sworn financial statement, you have to do certain mandatory financial disclosures. Those mandatory financial disclosures include obvious items such as tax return, pay stubs, employee benefits, packages, health insurance information, and other similar items.
The court does set an initial status conference within approximate 42 days after your case is filed. After the initial status conference, you have other obligations that you have to complete so that your case can be concluded. One of those obligations in most counties is to attend mediation. You will likely receive an order for alternative dispute resolution that will require you to set your case for mediation within a certain number of days. The number of days depends upon the county. You have to complete mediation and file a certificate of completion with the court in most instances before they will allow you to have your contested hearing.
Requirements of the Court
If you have children and both parties are not represented by an attorney, then a short non-contested hearing will be required by the court in order to ensure that the party who doesn’t have an attorney understands what they’re agreeing to in terms of a parenting plan, and child support, and agrees that those agreements are in the best interest of the children. Again, there could be a delay getting back into the court docket for purposes of having a short non-contested hearing if you’re able to reach an agreement on all of the issues.
Filing a Motion
If you are able to reach an agreement on all of the issues and you have an attorney or you don’t have minor children, you can file a separation agreement and/or parenting plan if applicable with the court along with an affidavit for decree without appearance of the parties, and a decree and a support order if there’s going to be child support or spousal support. The court will act on those documents 91 days after the case becomes at issue. It may not be necessary for you to return to court if you’re able to reach a full agreement and if you have filed your sworn financial statement and your certificate of compliance.
If you have minor children, another requirement established by the court is that you attend a parenting class. A parenting class varies by county. They’re usually about a four-hour class. Both parties have to attend this class. People tell me they find the parenting class to be very helpful because it talks about how to parent children after divorce, how to communicate things that you should or should not do, but the point is if you are dilatory and delay completing any of these steps, you will delay your case.
Certain counties try to set a case for resolution within six months after filing. That would be counties like Denver. They really try to get you resolved within six months of the case becoming at issue. Again, it depends on the docket. Other counties have a very heavy docket. I was recently advised by a judge in Adams County that they had over 580 cases on their docket. If you need court attention, or you need a permanent orders hearing, or a final hearing on your case, you’re likely going to experience some delay.
Completing the Process
If you’re able to reach a full agreement, and memorialize that, and you have completed your sworn financial statement, and your parenting class if applicable, and provided your financial disclosures, it is certainly possible that you could have your case ready to be resolved within 91 days after the case becomes at issue.