If you’ve ever seen the front page of a tabloid, you know getting married is quick and easy. Getting divorced quickly isn’t that easy, but it’s certainly possible to speed up the process. Although the divorce process is different in every state, there are a few things you can do to speed things up.
1. Reduce or avoid compulsory residence times
All divorces are handled by state courts, often by a dedicated family or family law department. State courts have authority only to make orders affecting their own residents; this is called “jurisdiction”. Once a court issues an order, other state courts must grant it “full faith and credit.” This means that a one-state divorce is recognized in all US states.
Each state has different residency requirements, so whether you can get a quick divorce depends in part on where you live. You can file for divorce immediately after moving to:
- South Dakota
In Idaho and Nevada, you only have to live in the state for six weeks before beginning the procedure. Most other states require you to be a resident for three to six months before you can file divorce papers, while many other states require a year or more of prior residency. Some states also require you to reside in a county for a specified amount of time before starting divorce proceedings there.
What if you don’t meet your state’s residency requirements but want to find out how to get a divorce right away? You have a few options to improve your chances of a quick divorce, including:
File where your spouse lives
If your spouse lives in a state with more favorable residency requirements, you may be able to file for divorce there. Nebraska, for example, waives its 365-day residency requirement if you were married in the state and your spouse still resides there.
Explore the technical details
Some states apply their residency requirement only to “no-fault” divorces (ie, those that do not allege “cause” or fault on the part of a spouse). Spouses filing for divorce because of “irreconcilable differences” may be able to circumvent the residency requirement without having to make unsavory allegations (such as adultery, abuse, or abandonment).
While it sounds extreme, moving to a state with a short or non-existent residency status can allow you to escape a stressful period of residency in your state.
2. Consider any waiting times
In addition to residency requirements, many states have built an additional waiting period into their divorce process. This delay ranges from 10 days to a full year. As a rule, this period begins when the non-filing spouse is “served” the divorce papers. However, some states require the couple to live apart for a period of time before they can even file for divorce.
In some cases, the mandatory waiting period does not significantly affect a quick divorce. Often even the simplest cases take time to process due to backlogs in the court system. In jurisdictions that require parties to appear for a court hearing, it may take weeks or months to find availability in the court’s schedule. You can use this time to work out agreements with your spouse and submit any additional documentation required.
To avoid a long wait, you have essentially the same options as with a residency permit: apply in another state, look for exceptions, or move to a country where a quick divorce is easier.
3. Use simplified divorce procedures
Many jurisdictions have expedited court procedures for couples who agree on important issues (like child custody, division of property, etc.) and want a relatively easy, “uncontested” divorce. This is often referred to as “simplified marriage dissolution.”
In some places, couples can fill out and file a set of paperwork together for an easy, quick, and more affordable DIY divorce. Other courts require each spouse to file (and pay for) separately, but shorten the process for an easy, uncontested divorce. If you are eligible to file using any of these expedited procedures, they can drastically reduce the time your divorce takes.
Divorcing spouses must decide how to divide their marital property, set up a parenting plan, and arrange other financial matters (such as spousal support). Even if you have significant assets to share, complicated financial concerns, and minor children, your divorce doesn’t have to be contentious and costly. You and your spouse can negotiate and decide these issues out of court. Then ask the court to approve your settlement agreement instead of holding a hearing.
There are many different ways to formulate and draft a prenuptial agreement. You can:
- Draft your own agreement using forms and templates from online divorce services
- Contact a divorce mediation or arbitration service
- Hire experienced divorce attorneys (one for each spouse)
- Contact a family law clinic operated by your city or a local law school
- Use the records and guides provided by your family court
- Talk to counselors or volunteers at your family court
Consultation with a lawyer is an excellent way to ensure a speedy divorce. An experienced divorce attorney can advise you on where to legally file for divorce and what residency requirements, waiting times and other formalities apply to each.
They know the filing procedures and how to fill out all the necessary forms, so you don’t have to waste time learning how to use your court’s online filing system and looking up templates. Even a simple divorce can be stressful and time-consuming; Hiring an attorney can help minimize the hassle and allow you to get your divorce over with as quickly as possible.
Don’t wait any longer: start the divorce process now
Don’t prolong the misery—a quick divorce allows everyone involved to begin healing and move on with their lives. Consult an attorney to find out how to make the divorce process as quick and easy as possible.
Disclaimer: This article provides general legal information, but does not constitute professional legal advice for your particular situation and should not be construed as establishing an attorney-client relationship. If you have any legal questions, you should seek the advice of an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.