Those beginning divorce proceedings may wonder how long the entire process will take. Unfortunately, there are various factors that could delay a resolution, and every divorce case will follow a different timeline depending on the circumstances.
An experienced attorney could advise on the length of the divorce process in Washington, DC and explain the matters that may influence your individual situation. Furthermore, dedicated legal assistance is often helpful in ensuring a divorce proceeds efficiently.
What is the Fastest Way to Get a Divorce in DC?
In uncontested cases, a skilled local attorney could help facilitate a quick divorce process. If a couple agrees on the terms of their divorce, the fastest way to finalize it is to get it in writing and have their lawyer file for an uncontested divorce on their behalf.
Afterward, the couple is likely to get a quick hearing before a judge to go over the terms of their separation agreement, which will be incorporated into the judgement of absolute divorce. A separating couple will likely receive their scheduled court hearing about a month or two after filing. These hearings are generally short and simple if the parties agree on all matters.
Length of a Contested Divorce
If a marriage dissolution is contested because one party does not agree to be divorced, then its likely the process will take longer. Once the case is filed, it can take a couple of months to get an initial hearing date. Afterward, the court will set a trial date.
Before the trial date, the parties have a right to discovery, which is a legal process through which each spouse can find out the assets and debts of the other party. If a divorce involves a complex trial where the parties disagree about multiple assets or debts, the process can take more than a year.
Unfortunately, it is impossible to say exactly how long a contested divorce case will take. Even when a court date and time are set, it is unlikely that the case will be called at exactly that time. Consulting a lawyer who understands the DC Superior Court is the best way of predicting how long your divorce process could take.
Factors that Could Lengthen the Divorce Process
If the parties disagree on what is separate versus marital property, that will prolong their divorce. Often, the character of property changes over time. For example, the couple may refinance a home that one party owned before the marriage using the non-homeowner’s credit to get a lower mortgage. In this scenario, whether that home is considered separate or marital property may be contested.
Furthermore, valuing property or retirement assets that have increased or decreased over time may require experts such as appraisers or accountants. Seeking those opinions can also lengthen the divorce timeline, but a skilled attorney with experience working with those experts could help speed the process.
Timeline for Divorces Involving Child Custody
Divorce cases involving children generally take longer and may require a pendente lite (PL) hearing. This hearing can push the trial further out and delay the final resolution of the case. Additionally, because child custody is often a contentious issue, these court cases usually last several days.
The courts are also packed with custody proceedings, so it is typically difficult to get multiple day trials before the same judge. Due to this, a divorce case involving custody may get spread out over multiple months, further lengthening the process. If you are beginning divorce proceedings in DC with your co-parent, it is recommended that you consult a seasoned lawyer to help prevent unnecessary delays.
Call an Attorney to Discuss the Length of the Divorce Process in Washington, DC
The main role of an attorney throughout the divorce process is to advise you about the law. By informing you of your rights and what a particular judge would be likely to decide in your case, legal counsel could help you reach the best result in the shortest amount of time. Although there is no standard length of the divorce process in Washington, DC, a knowledgeable lawyer could assess the circumstances of your case and guide you on achieving a timely resolution. Call our firm today to learn more.