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How long does it take for a divorce to be final?

December 3, 2018 Our Blog

Going through a divorce can be an exhausting process. It’s not just the time spent in court or with an attorney, but rather the emotional toll that it takes on all involved. If you’re in the midst of a divorce or simply contemplating one, it’s a good idea to have a rough idea of how long the process will take. Unfortunately, there’s more than one answer to this question. Understanding how long your divorce will take to be finalized means understanding a bit about the different circumstances under which a divorce might be granted in New York and how those circumstances might make your particular divorce take more or less time than others.

Minimum Time

While there are dozens of variables that can impact the amount of time it takes for a divorce to finalize, the most often-quoted minimum figure is about six weeks. In this case, the grounds for divorce would be New York’s version of a “no-fault” divorce claim, which requires that the marital relationship has been irreparably broken for at least a six month period prior to filing. For this six-week figure to be accurate, both parties would have to be willing to work quickly and efficiently, waiving statutory periods for response and having all of their paperwork filed in an incredibly timely manner. Even in such cases, the six-week figure might not be realistic if the courts are backed up or if there are even minor issues with the filing.

It might be more realistic to look at a period of ninety days as a more likely minimum amount of time. This takes into account both the amount of time the non-filing party has to respond to the petition (forty days), as well as the time needed for the divorce to work its way through the court and for all of the necessary paperwork to be signed. Ninety days still assumes that both parties are willing to work together in an agreeable manner and to have virtually everything settled before bringing the matter to the court.

More Complex Divorces

It is not unusual for a divorce in New York to take more than a year to complete. This is necessary, for example, for those divorces that have grounds of abandonment or that are dependant upon a legal separation for grounds. Because the statutory waiting period for these types of divorce is one year, it’s impossible for the divorce to take less than three hundred and sixty-five days to complete.

While issues like cruel and inhuman treatment or adultery do not necessarily have the same waiting period attached, they can still take a great deal of time to process. Both types of divorce do require the gathering of evidence, and adultery, in particular, can be very difficult to prove in court. As such, it’s often very unlikely to see divorce under these grounds to take much less time than those divorces that have the one-year waiting time attached to them.


The figures above also assume that the divorces in question are relatively straightforward. Any arguments about custody or the disposition of property can cause a divorce to stretch out for years or even months. Remember, it’s not just the amount of time that it takes the two parties to come to an agreement that adds more time to the process, but also the calendar of the court. Given that court dates are often weeks apart, even a small disagreement can push back the amount of time that it takes for a divorce to become finalized by quite a bit.

There’s not a quick answer for how long it will take a divorce to be finalized. It may take as little as a few weeks or it might take more than a year – it all depends on the grounds on which the divorce petition was filed, the commitments of the court, and the ability of the parties to work together to resolve their issues. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to say how long any given divorce will take to finish even if it sames like it’s similar to many others that have occurred before. With the help of a skilled attorney, though, individuals may receive the type of guidance that can help a divorce to become finalized in as little time as possible.

What if he’s restricting my access to the kids?

It’s not uncommon for parents to struggle with custody during a divorce. If one parent has been awarded sole custody, they may argue that it’s in the children’s best interest to not see their other parent. Every state has its own process for handling divorce proceedings, custody arrangements and visitation rights. This article will offer a general overview of custody agreements and advise you on what to do if you are being denied full access to your children.

Many parents push the boundaries of their custody agreement because they don’t understand the difference between psychical and legal custody. Being awarded joint legal custody does not mean you are entitled to full, unrestricted access to your children. Legal custody grants you authority and validity in all matters pertaining to your child’s physical and emotional well-being such as their education, religious activities, relocation, healthcare and so on.

Parents who share joint legal custody of their children do not always have shared physical custody. A judge may awarded one parent sole physical custody of a child. In a sole custody agreement, a non-custodial parent has visitation rights laid out in an agreement. This could be every weekend or a rotating weekly schedule. Usually, children will live with one parent full-time to maintain consistency and stability in their lives.

If your ex-partner restricts access to your kids even when you have visitation rights, you have a right to take him to court. Unless he has proof that you are an unfit parent, he cannot disallow any visits that have been legally granted to you.

Understanding Your Visitation Rights

If you share joint physical custody, a judge may still have arranged a visitation agreement in order to ensure children are not constantly shuttled between two households. Most parents usually agree to rotate a schedule or visit on the weekends. However, with no visitation agreement and shared physical custody, you are both equally entitled to unrestricted time to your children. A parent cannot enforce visitation limits on another without a legal agreement or just cause.

Parental Alienation

Preventing a child from seeing their parent can be considered a form of abuse. Unless a parent has been deemed unfit by a judge, restricting access to their children is illegal.

In the court, “parental alienation” is the act of denying, preventing or restricting a non-custodial parent’s access to their children. In many cases, the parent with custody may try to turn the children against the alienated parent, resulting in Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS). Tarnishing past relationships and preventing future ones from forming is detrimental to a child and should not be taken lightly.

The impact of divorce and custody battles on children are hard enough when things go smoothly. Being caught in the middle of two angry parents is even harder.
Your partner doesn’t just have to deny in-person visits to be in violation of an agreement; cutting you out of your children’s lives by limiting or refusing phone calls, video chats, text messages and other forms of communication are also considered restrictive.

When to Speak to a Lawyer

If your partner has limited your access to your children, sought to turn them against you or violated your custody agreement, it’s time to get in contact with a family lawyer. Collect as much proof as you can including call logs, text messages and any other exchanges regarding your children. Every state has its own divorce and custody laws, so contacting an attorney is your bet.

You want to ensure that all of your proceedings are done in an organized, civil manner. The other parent may go out of their way to prove they were restricting your access for the benefit of the children. Working with a lawyer from the start demonstrates responsibility on your behalf.

Even if you don’t have physical custody of your children, as long as a visitation agreement is in place, you’re entitled to see them during the allotted times. Many visitation arrangements also include guidelines for additional forms of contact that allow you to maintain an active role in your children’s lives.

Ultimately, the primary goal of any custody agreement should be to ensure children are able to maintain stable lives after a divorce. A lawyer can help you secure the role in your children’s lives that you deserve.



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