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How Long Does It Take to Get Divorced in New York State?

One of the most frequent questions, I get is, “How long does it take to get divorced?” or “How long does divorce take after filing papers?”  Now, most divorce attorneys will tell you “It depends”. And they are right. However, this article will give you a sense of the typical events that happen and how long to expect each event to occur. I’ll also explain some factors that might slow down the process and others that help speed up the process.

Please note that this article will focus on a contested divorce, an uncontested divorce will take much shorter. An uncontested divorce (if it is truly uncontested) can take between 3 – 8 months, depending on how busy the court system is; however, most of that time is waiting for the court’s clerk to process the papers and for a Judge to sign them.

Here are the typical events that happen in a contested divorce:

  • Filing: With e-filing, an attorney can file the initial Divorce papers in one day, and typically the Clerk of the Court will process them in one day or the next day. The initial papers can be the “Summons With Notice” or “Summons” and “Complaint”. Although, there are differences, they will only have a minimal effect on how long the divorce takes.
  • Service: Once the divorce papers are filed, they have to be served upon the other party. Most process servers can get service completed within one to two weeks. In some rare cases, it might be difficult to find the other party and service could take much longer.
  • Response (Answer): After the papers are served, the other party (Defendant) has 20 days to respond (usually with an Answer to the Complaint).
  • Initial Court Conference (Preliminary Conference): The next step will typically be the initial court conference, which is called the “Preliminary Conference.” This is when you will first meet the Judge assigned to your case. Once the divorce attorney requests a Preliminary Conference, it will usually occur within 2- 4 weeks of the request.
  • Discovery: After the Preliminary Conference, the usual next step is for each attorney to request documents from the other attorney/party – what is known as the Discovery Stage. In most divorces, discovery will take 2 – 4 months.
  • Additional Court Conferences: After the Preliminary Conference and usually after the discovery stage is over or close to being concluded, there will be additional court conferences. The goal of the additional court conferences is to let the Judge know how the case is progressing and to see if any issues can be resolved. These additional court conferences can be anywhere from 2 – 12 months.
  • Settlement discussions: Since 90% – 95% of divorces settle, there will be settlement discussions involved in your case. Most settlement discussions happen during the same period of time that the additional court conferences are occurring. So, for purposes of this article, I will not add any additional time.
  • Pre-Trial Conference and pre-trial preparation: If the case has not settled, then the Court will schedule a Pre-Trial Conference. Depending on the Court’s calendar, this could be as few as 2 months after the last court conference or as much as 6 months after the last court conference.
  • Trials: Most divorce trials take 1 – 3 days. They will be scheduled about 1 – 4 months after the pre-trial conference.

As you can see, a “typical” divorce can take between about 9 months to 18 months. However, the following factors can slow down the process:

  • Non-cooperating spouse: If your spouse doesn’t cooperate or purposely delays the proceedings, then it is likely that this will delay your divorce.
  • Illness/Surgery: If you or your spouse get ill or have surgery, this will delay the divorce. Similarly, if the Judge or one of the attorneys gets ill or have surgery, this will also delay the proceedings.
  • Difficulty in getting documents: If it is difficult to get certain documents from a bank or other institution, then this will also slow down the process.

In contrast, the following could help to speed up the process:

  • Productive and Early Settlement talks: If you and your spouse have productive and more importantly early settlement discussions, this will help get your divorce finished earlier than expected.
  • Producing documents in a timely manner: If documents are provided in a timely manner, this will help shorten the time that discovery is necessary.
  • Judges: Some Judges have shorter deadlines and will tend to shorten the process of the divorce.
  • Attorneys: Some attorneys work faster than others.

So, although it is true, that how long your divorce will take – is impossible to answer, you can use the above as a guideline to track your divorce and compare it with the typical guidelines.

If you need more information about divorces and how long they take, then contact David Badanes, Esq. and the Badanes Law Office, P.C.

The Badanes Law Office, P.C. has helped hundreds of clients get a divorce. If you need an experienced divorce lawyer, then call David Badanes and the Badanes Law Office, P.C. today at 631-239-1702 or email at david@dbnylaw.com.

We have offices in Northport, Suffolk County and Uniondale, Nassau County.

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