If you are planning to get a divorce or have been served with the papers by your spouse, it is crucial that you know all your legal options. When you have a proper understanding of your rights and the legal process, you will have an easier time navigating the judicial system.
One of the first questions to cross the mind of divorcing couples is how long the process will take. There is no straightforward answer to this question. The length of your divorce will depend on several factors.
Generally speaking, a divorce where both parties mutually agree to resolve important matters will take considerably less time compared to a divorce that involves hostility and disagreements.
Once the papers are filed with the court, it can take anywhere from six weeks to a year for the divorce to be finalized. Depending on your unique case facts, an experienced St. Louis Divorce Mediation attorney can help you know how long your divorce is likely to take to get finalized.
Let’s look at some factors that influence the length of divorce in St. Louis.
1. St. Louis Divorce Requirements
To get a divorce in St. Louis, Missouri, you need to fulfill the following requirements:
- At least one spouse must have resided in the state for at least 90 days prior to the start of the divorce proceedings
- The divorce proceedings should take place in the county where either you or your spouse reside
For a clearer understanding of the jurisdictions, you should consult an experienced St. Louis Divorce Mediation attorney.
2. Grounds for Divorce in St. Louis
Missouri is a no-fault divorce state. This means that the court can grant a divorce if it finds that the marriage is irretrievably broken, with no likelihood of preserving it. Broadly speaking, this is the easiest and the fastest way to end the marriage.
Many cases, however, involve major disputes and disagreements between spouses and take longer to settle. Even if one spouse does not want to get divorced (respondent) and denies that the marriage is irretrievably broken, the court takes into account numerous factors before making a decision. This requires the petitioning spouse (petitioner) to provide proof of grounds for divorce.
The common grounds for divorce in St. Louis include:
- The respondent committed adultery
- The respondent abandoned the petitioner for at least six months
- The spouses have lived separately for at least 12 months by mutual agreement
- The spouses have lived separately for at least two years
- The respondent behaved in a manner that living together became intolerable for the petitioner
An experienced St. Louis Divorce Mediation attorney will be well-versed with all the grounds of divorce applicable in Missouri and guide you accordingly.
3. Contested and Uncontested Issues
The divorce process can move swiftly if both the parties involved agree to the terms of the separation. This is known as an uncontested divorce or a divorce by agreement. In such cases, the parties work out the terms of their agreement by either talking to each other or with the help of a marriage counselor or even a family law attorney or mediator.
The goal is to resolve all the key issues of the marriage in detail so that a final agreement can be prepared and filed in the court. If your issues are negotiated and agreed upon before the case is filed, the only thing pending will be the judge’s approval and signature.
If your divorce case has unresolved issues and contested matters and goes for litigation, it can take up to a year or more to end the marriage.
4. Court Hearings
Depending on the circumstances surrounding your case, it may either unfold in a straightforward manner with minimal discovery or require court intervention before the final judgment.
Cases that involve abuse, financial disputes, or discovery issues take longer to resolve as these bottlenecks tend to slow down the case’s progress.
Lawyers of both parties may negotiate over the issues, and if an agreement is reached, it may need to undergo a hearing. This can take time.
5. Working with the Right Attorney
The lawyer you choose to work with can have a huge bearing on your case’s outcome. Divorce cases can be extremely convoluted and may even involve high degrees of animosity between the spouses. Further, matters related to child custody, spousal support, and property division can add more fuel to the fire.
This is why it is important that you hire an attorney who is level-headed and skilled in divorce and family law. A recent law graduate will not be able to move further with the case like an experienced St. Louis Divorce Mediation attorney will. Working with the latter will always speed things up.
Once all the contentions have been settled, the judge can grant a divorce. The shortest amount of time to grant a divorce in St. Louis is 30 days from the date of filing the petition. Complex cases can take months to resolve though.
When the divorce is granted, the judge will issue a Decree of Dissolution of Marriage, a legal document that confirms that the couple is divorced.
There is no fixed time limit for the finalization of a divorce. Depending on the facts of your case, your divorce may need either 30 days or longer to be granted. Mentioned above are just some of the factors that can influence the duration of a divorce case in St. Louis, Missouri. You may want to work with an experienced St. Louis Divorce Mediation attorney to ensure that your case is resolved quickly and smoothly.
Engage Experienced St. Louis Divorce Mediation Attorneys Now
At the J. Rench Law Firm LLC, our lawyers routinely handle various kinds of family law matters, including divorce, mediation, child custody, and asset division. Discuss your case with the team of experienced St. Louis divorce mediation attorneys on (314) 725-4000. You can also contact us online.