Legal Guide

Why You Don’t Need to Wait 1 Year – The Processes in Divorce

Unfortunately, not all couples have a happy ending. When getting married, you hope for the marriage to last until your last day, but bad things can happen unexpectedly, and both you and your spouse may end up agreeing to get a divorce. 

When it comes to divorce, many people believe that they need to wait 12 months to even begin addressing the financial settlement after getting separated. However, this is not always the case. Each state is different in terms of how long you have to wait before getting divorced, so if you no longer get along with your partner, you need to know what is going to happen moving forward. 

So, here’s everything you should know before you look for those divorce attorneys and start the process.

What Are the Key Stages of the Divorce Process

There are 5 key stages of the divorce process, and these include:

  1. Filing Petition for Divorce – The first thing you will do is the filing of the Summons and Petition for Divorce. These documents cannot be served formally by you – they must be served on your spouse after you either ask your spouse to informally accept this service or hire a process server. 
  2. Temporary Orders – If you have a child and you need a quick parenting plan, this stage involves setting temporary orders until the day the divorce process is over. This stage can be avoided if you and your spouse can make a mutual agreement. 
  3. Collecting Information – This is known as the Discovery stage, as it is where you and your lawyer will look for important information that helps finalize the divorce process. It can either involve collecting documents exchanged between spouses or formal Discovery requests. Depositions may also be involved. 
  4. Pursuing a Case Settlement – The two spouses will then need to pursue a settlement. In general, divorce cases end in mediation.
  5. Drafting and Filing the Final Orders – Drafting and filing the final orders is the next step if mediation settles the case. This ends the divorce process. However, when a settlement isn’t reached in mediation, the case goes to trial. 

Do You Need to Wait for the Finalization of a Financial Settlement?

Most people refer to the “12-month rule” when they talk about having to wait before getting divorced. However, this rule refers to the formalized recognition of the end of a marriage. There are differences between getting a divorce and separating, and this will help you understand why you don’t always need to wait. 

When a couple separates, it simply means that they do not want to continue being in a relationship. The two parties agree to stop living together and being a couple, and the decision is mutual. However, a partner doesn’t need agreement from the other spouse to say that he or she wants to separate. 

Meanwhile, a divorce involves the formal process of submitting Court documents to officially end a marriage after getting separated. Divorces can only be made after a minimum period has passed from the date of separation. Each state has different waiting periods for this matter. 

You do not need to wait to finalize a financial settlement, though. The earlier you start working on the case and put things in place informally, the easier the process will be for you and your loved ones. 

During the first period after the separation, you can start negotiating property settlement matters and formalizing agreements. Not only that, but you can also focus on parenting arrangements and spousal maintenance. 

Ideally, you should also seek the help of an attorney early on, as it will help navigate the case accordingly even during your separation. Even if your spouse has good intentions and you can trust them, it’s best to be prepared for the unpredictable. 

How Long Do You Have to Wait to Get Divorced?

For a proper divorce, you may need to wait some time. Each state has different laws and thus different waiting times. Unfortunately, this limits people’s freedom to end a marriage, which can have a detrimental impact on spouses. 

In states such as Wyoming, West Virginia, and Florida, you can wait for as little as 20 days to be able to divorce. However, in states like Louisiana, Vermont, Virginia, Montana, and Delaware, you will wait for about six months. Other states require even longer waiting times – you would have to be separated for one year before you can get divorced in South Carolina and North Carolina. 

Final Thoughts

You must be separated for a while before being able to file a divorce, but you don’t have to wait for 1 year before you work on finalizing a financial settlement. Start working on it as soon as possible for the best results.

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