Can a Divorce Waiting Period Be Waived?

by Michael Butler

Most people who file for divorce want a court to grant the divorce as soon as possible. However, some states have waiting periods that bar a court from granting a divorce until a statutory number of days has passed. In some states, this waiting period can be waived in some circumstances.

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Cooling Off

The waiting period for a divorce is often called the "cooling-off period." Sometimes people rush to file for divorce out of temporary anger or disillusionment with the marriage. However, given a cooling-off period, the theory is that some couples will reconsider and choose to stay married. The waiting period also gives a spouse who didn't file for divorce time to adjust. It gives both parties an amount of time to find alternative living arrangements, if necessary.

State Law

Because divorce is a matter of state law, the waiting period is as well. Some states do not have any waiting period. Other states have different waiting periods for different types of divorce, such as a longer waiting period when the couple has children. Most states that have a waiting period have some circumstances in which the waiting period can be waived by order of the court. However, some states, such as Texas, do not allow the waiting period to be waived. You will need to check the provisions in your state to determine whether and under what circumstances you can waive the waiting period.

Common Reasons

States that do allow courts to waive the waiting period often allow it for good cause or emergencies. For example, if the person filing for divorce is in the military and about to go on an extended tour of duty, the court might waive the waiting period so that the divorce can be final before the soldier leaves. Other states waive the waiting period if the parties have agreed on all the issues in the case and both consent to the waiver. Whether to waive the waiting period is normally up to the discretion of the court.

Considerations

Divorce can take longer than the waiting period whether a court grants a request for waiver or not. Property and custody issues can take a long time to resolve. To get a divorce hearing, you also have to wait until the court is available. Depending on how busy the court is, you may have to wait a couple of months for a hearing. Local family law attorneys are in the best position to know how courts in your state tend to rule on requests to waive the waiting period. Consult with an attorney to learn the judicial tendencies in your state.