When Will My Divorce Be Finalized?

When will my divorce be finalized?

A divorce is officially finalized when the judge signs the paperwork for his or her final decision. At the very least, a divorce in Washington will take 3 months, which is the minimum waiting period. After 3 months, the duration of a divorce depends on its level of complexity. Couples who have few conflicts, relevant prenuptial agreements, or minimal assets may experience a rapid divorce process—typically 3 to 6 months. Others, however, with more complex finances and child custody disputes may take much longer, some lasting a year or longer.

Certain divorce methods take longer than others

Before obtaining the judge’s final decisions, couples must first decide on which legal process they will use to settle their divorce. Many couples choose mediation or negotiate a settlement rather than go to court, whereas couples with more complex assets to divide or unresolved issues often choose litigation. Most of the time, going to court increases the length of the divorce process.

Longer marriages take more time to dissolve

Were you married for a long period of time? If so, it is very likely your assets and finances will be more difficult to disentangle from one another, making the process take longer. Consider the home you lived in together, any vacation properties you shared, vehicles, furniture, and other possessions that each of you may wish to keep. All of these decisions that need to be made add up and can draw out the divorce process as you and your spouse work to find terms you can both agree to.

Couples with children typically have longer divorces

If you and your spouse shared children, that may also add to the duration of your divorce process. Each party must decide what type of custody they seek, whether one parent will take primary custody or both parents share custody. In mediation, the parents must reach an agreeable decision, which can take less time. However, couples going through the court will likely have to deal with multiple court dates where a judge will decide the best custody option.

Making everything final (but you still might have more to deal with)

When everything has been decided on, you and your spouse may progress to the final stage of your divorce. Your last legal action in your divorce process requires that the judge sign off on the final decisions. Whether you went to trial, found a settlement, or reached an agreement through mediation, all divorcing couples will need a judge to sign the final divorce papers. Once the judge signs the papers, you will be considered legally divorced.

However, it is always possible that one or both spouses may file an appeal if certain aspects of the divorce were unfavorable or unfair. For example, if one spouse seeks more spousal support, or wishes to change the terms of the property division, they may appeal the court for further consideration. If there is an appeal, it will lead to a new trial where the divorce will be discussed and reviewed further.

Also, after a divorce is finalized, there may still be legal issues you will have to work out in the future:

For more information, read our “Life after Divorce” section of our Washington Divorce guide.

For help with your divorce, contact McKinley Irvin at our Washington office.

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