One of the most frequently asked questions we field from new clients is: How long will it take until my divorce is final? Unfortunately, this question lacks a simple answer, as this article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch highlights.
Under the best of circumstances, if the parties have agreed in advance to all issues of dividing property, child custody and support – what we call an uncontested divorce – the time of the divorce could be as short as sixty days.
Most divorces, however, involve sufficient property, custody or support issues as to at least require full disclosure of financial information and the opportunity to investigate that full disclosure has in fact been made. In these circumstances, the process can expand depending on the complexity of the case (generally the higher the assets, the more time involved) and the level of conflict.
One aspect of the process that increases the length of time to final judgment is simply the overwhelming number of cases filed each year and the limited number of family court judges available to hear all of these cases. If parties need to have motions heard for discovery or other purposes, it could take several weeks to get a hearing. And if a case needs to proceed to trial, it may be difficult to get a setting for several months. And once a case does get set for trial, it could be several months later until the parties receive a final judgment.
With regard to complexity and conflict, each party will need to disclose financial information and investigate that information. Not only does that take time, but it might require hiring experts like forensic accountants or vocational evaluators. And if custody is highly contested, the court may appoint a guardian ad litem, which only adds to the tasks at hand.
Finally, the distance between the parties at the start, the desire for conflict and the temperament of your spouse’s attorney all could help to lengthen the process.
The Missouri Supreme Court has adopted track guidelines that require divorce cases take no longer than one year from filing. Since beginning the tracking of cases, more divorces do tend to end within that year.
If you have additional questions about how long a divorce will take in Missouri, contact us – we can help.