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  • How Long Does It Take To Get Divorced in New York? 

    One question I am frequently asked is how long does it take to get divorced?

    Obviously, no one wants a long, drawn out procedure that leaves everybody bitter and hurt, not to mention the expenses. That being said, there isn’t really a solid answer to that inquiry; there are many factors that are involved in getting divorced, including the parties involved, the nature of the divorce, what county you are filing in, and the judge, and that’s just the surface.

    Mediation can shorten the divorce process

    All my clients, and anyone getting divorced, look to have a short and speedy divorce, so that they can get on with their lives. One course that is frequently being used today is mediation, which can often shorten the length of the divorce by months, if not years.

    Factors that influence the length of divorce

    Other factors that can influence the duration of the divorce process is if there are children involved, significant properties and other issues, regardless if the parties agree on every matter. Considering the amount of paperwork involved and the fact that the judge must review it all in order to confirm that they comply with the appropriate divorce laws and that the agreement is in the best interest of the children involved, the length of time for the conclusion of the divorce grows with every additional issue. Even the Court’s schedule can influence the amount of time it takes for divorce.

    Inability to Work Together

    If the spouses are unable to cohesively collaborate on solving key issues, then the resolution process simply is taken out of their control and into the hands of a judge, which not only increases the amount of time the divorce process will take, but also increases the amount of money you will have to pay your attorneys for court appearances, document preparation, and more.

    Substantial Assets

    If there is an asset being disputed, such as a retirement benefit, or real estate investment or asset, it is often requested that the asset be appraised so that it can be assigned a reliable, numerical value. This process is also both time consuming and costly.

    How long does an uncontested divorce take in NY?

    In an uncontested divorce, it will obviously take less time compared to a contested divorce. However, even in this situation, it will take some time depending on the court and the judge, even the state and county you reside in.

    Although all of this suffices as a legitimate answer, clients want a solid answer, so I can only give averages that I have observed during my long, successful practice. On average in New York, if both parties agree to divorce, and I must stress this is a rough average, an uncontested divorce usually takes about 3 months.

    How long does a contested divorce take in NY?

    A contested divorce in NY lasts about 9 months to a year, on average. Different divorce cases can differ in duration for a variety of reasons. I have been involved in cases that have taken years before a judgment of divorce was signed, and some colleagues have even been involved in decade long divorces. Adversely, I have seen uncontested cases completed in less than 3 months.

    Divorces don’t always have to be settled in front of a judge. When I meet with a client for the first time, I unusually ascertain all the issues for the divorce and, if the client wants to, I will try to reach a pre-filing divorce settlement. This includes letters and settlement proposals to the other spouse or their attorney. Depending on the progress, including cooperation and a likelihood of settlement, this could take approximately 3 to 4 months to reach a final settlement. After a settlement is reached, the final divorce documents are prepared and sent to the court for signature. Depending on the County, this procedure could take an additional 2 to 3 months. Importantly, during any pre-filing divorce negotiations, the best NYC divorce lawyers know when to stop negotiating and bring the divorce to court. If there are delays by a spouse, attorney or if the case is simply “going in circles” without an agreement or the promise of an agreement, the best course of action is not to waste time and to move into Court to resolve the divorce case.

    Once a summons and complaint is served and filed, nothing will happen on a divorce case in court unless either party files a Request for Judicial Intervention (RJI). This is the document that gets the case before a Judge. How quickly a party can file an RJI depends if the spouse has answered the lawsuit, or if there is some emergency. Generally, after a summons and complaint is served and filed, there is a 30 day period before an RJI can be filed. Once an RJI is filed with the Court, the matter will be scheduled for a Preliminary Conference either before a Judge or a Court Attorney Referee. The time to get a Preliminary Conference date depends on the County but generally is 30-45 days unless there is an emergency issue.

    At the Preliminary Conference, all the subject matters in the divorce case are identified and, depending how complex the case is, the Court will give it a discovery schedule. There is a non-complex case, where discovery of information is finished within 4 months. A moderately complex case has maximum of 7 months for discovery. Finally, there are complex cases, where discovery is finished within 11 months. This timeframe is the Court’s goal to resolve all discovery within a set period of time, and he discovery includes all document exchanged, depositions, subpoenas etc.

    So, after all this, how long will my divorce case take?

    As you can see, there are numerous factors in determining a timeframe to get divorced. The more complex cases with adversarial parties or attorneys will take the longest. It is not uncommon for a divorce case to take over a year from the very beginning to the end. There are no short cuts and the top divorce attorneys will tell you that it is better to take additional time to make sure the case is handled properly then to rush the process forward.

    If you need a divorce lawyer, contact Paul E. Rudder, Esq. Call (212) 826-9900 or click here to set up a consultation.