Can You Rush a Divorce in Any Way?

By Beverly Bird

Some people are as eager to get their divorces over with as they were to get married in the first place. If you're one of them, the odds of rushing your divorce through the legal system depend a great deal on where you live and whether your relationship with your soon-to-be ex remains civil. If the two of you can negotiate a settlement of all your marital issues, you can speed the process up considerably.

Beginning the Proceedings

Divorces begin with one spouse filing a complaint or petition for divorce, then officially serving it on the other spouse. Many states allow the receiving spouse to accept service so the petitioning spouse doesn't have to go through the time-consuming steps of service of process. If your spouse is willing to sign the acceptance form, it can hasten things along. He then has a period of time within which to file an answer to your petition with the court – usually about 30 days in most states. If he does so immediately instead of waiting, you can cut a month off the overall process.

Choosing Grounds

All states recognize some form of no-fault divorce, but the no-fault grounds involve a lengthy separation in some states. If you have been separated for one to two years before you file for divorce, this generally fulfills the requirement. Other states allow you to file on no-fault grounds such as irreconcilable differences or irretrievably breakdown of the marriage without a separation time requirement. This is a simple matter of stating to the court in your petition that your marriage is over and there's no way to save it. Filing on no-fault grounds typically means your divorce will move along more quickly. If you file on fault grounds, you may have to prove them in court if your spouse contests them, and this can drag out your divorce. Accusing your spouse of fault grounds can also antagonize him and make negotiations for a settlement difficult.

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Dispute Resolution

After the beginning steps of filing and service, you and your spouse can reach a settlement agreement on all issues – including spousal support, property distribution, debt division, custody and child support – and submit it to the court. After a judge approves and signs off on your agreement, you can be divorced. Otherwise, you must litigate resolution of these issues. Litigation is a time-consuming series of steps that includes asking the court for temporary orders, discovery to determine the facts of your case, pretrial conferences and a trial so a judge can rule on your divorce. If you're having trouble coming to a settlement, you can try arbitration – a sort of informal trial where the arbitrator makes either binding or non-binding decisions so you can be divorced – or mediation. Mediation involves meeting with a neutral third party who helps you negotiate and makes suggestions for settlement. Although mediation and arbitration take time, they usually aren't as long or involved as a divorce trial.

Waiting Periods

Another snag to a speedy divorce – even if you promptly reach a settlement with your spouse – is that some states won't finalize your agreement until a statutory waiting period has expired. For example, in California, the waiting period is six months. If you file for divorce and reach an agreement the next day, you must still wait another 179 days for your divorce to become final. In Tennessee, it's only three months and even less if you don't have children. Other states have no waiting periods at all, so where you live and file can have a significant impact on your chances of rushing your divorce.

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New Hampshire Uncontested Divorce Requirements

References

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North Carolina Law for Marriage Separation

Divorcing in North Carolina can be very easy or very confusing, but the confusion arises mostly if you try to compare this state's laws with others. If you need the court to resolve certain issues -- such as property division -- you must specifically request this before divorcing. After the divorce is granted, the court will address these other issues as needed. When separation is your grounds for divorce, you must only live separate and apart for 366 days.

How Long Can a Divorce Be Postponed in Indiana?

For all practical purposes, Indiana is a no-fault state. Its statutes don't include the typical fault grounds of adultery, abandonment or cruelty. If you file for divorce in this state, your only options are to use the no-fault grounds and tell the court your marriage is irretrievably broken, or your spouse is impotent, insane or convicted of a felony. If you file on grounds of irretrievable breakdown, your spouse can't stop the divorce without your consent. Under some circumstances, however, you or your spouse may be able to postpone the proceedings for a little while.

Meaning of Bifurcation in Divorce

Divorce can be a long, drawn-out affair. If it's contested, it can take years. In the meantime, spouses remain legally married, unable to move on with their lives. Bifurcation addresses this problem, but not all states recognize it as a solution. For example, California routinely permits bifurcation, but Texas doesn't allow it and New Jersey does so only under extreme circumstances.

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