On behalf of Sayer Regan & Thayer of Sayer Regan & Thayer, LLP posted on Wednesday, September 4, 2020.

This will vary widely from case to case. Generally, it can take between six months and a year for a divorce to become final. And that’s for an uncontested divorce. Contested divorces, where the stakes are higher due to custody, business and financial battles, can take much longer.

Factors Affecting Length

The time it takes to get a divorce, a branch of family law, will be impacted by the following:

  • Where you live: In Rhode Island, there is a three-month waiting period until final judgment of divorce can enter. Therefore, an uncontested divorce in this state takes approximately five months. Also, Rhode Island is not a very “alimony-friendly” state, which means it’s not generally awarded unless there are unusual circumstances.
  • If there is a waiting period in your state: Rhode Island has a “cooling off” period of three months, to allow the parties to reconcile and decide not to go through with the divorce.
  • If you’ve met the residency requirements: In order to file for a divorce in Rhode Island, you must meet residency requirements, which states that the plaintiff must have resided in the state for one year before filing.
  • Whether you have a fault-based or no-fault divorce. Rhode Island is a no-fault state, meaning a fault ground is not required to obtain a divorce here.
  • If you’re able to find your spouse for service of divorce papers: This will cause obvious delays. No divorce can be filed or finalized without both parties’ signatures.
  • If your divorce is an uncontested divorce, meaning all major issues are resolved. This will significantly lessen the amount of time for the divorce.
  • If your divorce is contested. This is when you cannot resolve most major issues. A trial is likely in this case.
  • Whether you have a lot of assets and businesses that must undergo evaluation of net worth.
  • Whether you have serious conflicts about custody, or even require a forensic psychologist to evaluate your family.
  • Whether there are suspected hidden assets or not.
  • If your local family court is backed up with cases.

So, to sum up: Once the divorce paperwork is filed with the courts, an uncontested divorce can take between 30 and 90 days for a divorce to be final IF all conditions are ideal. Contested divorces, where a judge is involved and makes decisions when the couple can’t, will take more than a year, sometimes two.
Many people choose to file their own divorces IF they can agree on all aspects and the divorce is relatively amicable. But when spouses cannot agree about the terms and conditions of their divorce, this is a contested divorce. Hiring a lawyer is a good idea to help you navigate such an emotional and confusing time.

These materials have been prepared by SRT for informational purposes only and are not intended and should not be construed as legal advice.