How Long Does A Divorce Take?

If you do not belong to the small percentage of divorcing couples who have agreed on all terms of the divorce at the outset, we often hear: “Why is my divorce taking so long?” You may be wondering exactly how long a divorce takes.  Below we have laid out common questions and phrases we hear from clients to give you a sense of the factors that go in to a length of a divorce.

I know my spouse needs to be served a divorce petition, but can’t I just serve divorce papers?

Yes and no.  You can always give your spouse the divorce petition, but this is not technically adequate under the law.  The reason to “serve” them the divorce papers yourself is to give them the opportunity to file an Appearance with the Court, which tells the Court that he/she is accepting service (or specifically, accepting the divorce papers) and the Court has jurisdiction over that person.

Advantages to serving divorce papers yourself: No embarrassing service at work or in public; quicker turnaround in the event spouse’s attorney files an Appearance.

Disadvantages to serving divorce papers yourself: Puts your spouse on notice that Divorce Petition is coming and can more easily dodge service; Can prolong inevitable – you may still need to use Sheriff or Special Process Server if your spouse does not file Appearance.

What is the longest part of the divorce process?

Typically, the longest part is the divorce discovery process. This is where a party can request certain documents and ask certain questions.  Divorce discovery can be written or oral. A common method of oral discovery that is most recognizable is the deposition.  Discovery is often the longest and most costly part of a divorce process.  This is for many reasons:

  1. One or both parties not complying with requests.
  2. Inability to comply with requests due to one or both parties no longer possessing documents. Documents can then be obtained through subpoenas.
  3. Discovery is often complex – attorneys need time to review and decipher account statements.
  4. Disorganization of documents.
  5. Child custody issues – not only can it involve discovery by the parties, but also issues involved the Child Representative/Guardian ad Litem; home study evaluations; and other psychological evaluations.

How can you expedite divorce discovery?

First and foremost, throughout the discovery process and the entire divorce, you need to be forthright with your attorney.   Cook County, as well as the surrounding counties, require a financial disclosure statement where you disclose all your assets and liabilities. Be thorough on this disclosure statement, and leave nothing out.  This includes accounts that you consider premarital.

Second, be organized.  If you hand your attorney a stack of disorganized documents, it’s going to take longer for your attorney to get through and organize these documents, let alone analyze them.

But my spouse and I decided on an amicable divorce…

Often times two parties will believe they have all the issues settled but a number of things can get in the way of actual divorce settlement

  1. Unfair terms – this is why it is key to have an attorney. Something that sounds good to you, might actually not be fair in the eyes of the law. Typically, there is nothing preventing you from taking that divorce settlement, but you should at least be advised of your rights.
  2. Miscommunication – Many times, clients have come to us convicted that their spouse had agreed to something, when in fact it was merely a miscommunication.
  3. Lack of knowledge of the law – Often time, clients will use legal terms as they define them.  For example, “shared custody” and “joint custody” have two distinct legal meaning, but clients will often use them interchangeably.  This can lead to confusion on the actual terms of agreement.
  4. Reconsideration – people change their minds, especially during a highly emotional divorce when issues of children and finances are involved.

Does a Cook County Divorce or a Chicago Divorce take longer than others counties?

Yes and no.  As stated previously, if the parties are in complete agreement, a divorce taking place in Cook County or Chicago should not take longer than any of the other surrounding counties. However, if the parties choose or are forced to litigate issues in which they are not in agreement, it can take longer than other counties.  The reason for this is that Cook County and Chicago are both well populated, causing the court system to be overburdened at times. For example, scheduling a court date for divorce litigation can take a significant amount of time to obtain.  Depending on the circumstances and the location of one or both of the parties, it is often better to bring divorces in one of the collar counties, such as Lake County, DuPage County, Kane County, and Will County.

“How long does a divorce take?” is the first of many questions that arise during a divorce settlement. Contact us, Greenberg & Sinkovits Chicago Divorce Attorneys,  with further questions. Our firm handles divorces not only in Cook County and Chicago, but also Lake County, DuPage County, Kane County, and Will County.


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