When couples are considering ending their marriage, one of the questions that often comes up is how long will the divorce take? A related question is, how fast can I get divorced in Missouri?
The minimum amount of time it takes to get divorced in Missouri is 30 days. Missouri law requires that at least one party has been a resident of Missouri for 90 days, and 30 days must pass between the filing of the divorce petition and final judgment. This is essentially a cooling off period to prevent rash decisions.
As we all know, what the rule says and what actually happens can be two different things. Can you get divorced faster than 30 days in Missouri? No. Can it take longer than 30 days? Absolutely. Many cases take 6 months to a year, and some even longer. How quickly or slowly your divorce happens depends on a few things.
Are there contested issues in the case?
The absolute fastest way to get divorced is if the parties agree to the terms of the divorce. This is commonly referred to as an “Uncontested Divorce,” (although the most accurate way to describe it is actually a divorce by agreement). In an uncontested divorce, the parties work out the terms of their agreement either by talking to each other directly or with the help of a marriage and family therapist, attorney or family mediator. The key is to fully resolve the issues in detail so that a final settlement agreement is signed and ready to file from the same moment the divorce is filed with the court. Having all your issues negotiated and agreed on before the case is filed means that your divorce can be signed by a judge as soon as the 30 has passed. If your case is filed as a contested matter, it can take between 6 months and a year or more to work through the litigation process.
Do you have the right attorney helping you?
Not all family attorneys practice the same way. How quickly or slowly your attorney works sometimes is a big factor in how long your case will take. That said, I often hear stories about how slow their attorney is even when the attorney is working hard on the case. It is a little like waiting for food when you can’t see the kitchen. A lot of what attorneys do is behind the scenes. When in doubt, talk to your attorney.
What court and judge is your case in front of?
Some courts and judges simply operate faster than others. A seasoned family attorney will know how the courts in your area operate so you can be realistic. This is one reason (of many) it is a good idea to hire an attorney to assist you, even with a simple uncontested case.
Are there issues that require hearings along the way?
Some cases unfold in a straightforward way with minimal discovery. Other may have issues that need court attention before final judgment. Abuse, urgent financial issues, or discovery disputes are just a few. These kinds of issues are speed bumps that will slow your case’s progress. The attorneys will be working to negotiate the issues. If an agreement can’t be reached, there may need to be a hearing, which adds time.
These are just some of the factors that can influence the time it takes to conclude a divorce in Missouri. It is worthwhile to work with an divorce attorney to make sure your case goes quickly and smoothly. Call us if you need help.