If you and your spouse can resolve everything before filing and both of you have lawyers who want to finish fast, you can be divorced within three weeks from the date of filing. If everything is not settled before filing, then you can be divorced in a couple of weeks after a settlement is reached, if your lawyers move quickly. If issues such as custody, alimony, equitable distribution, etc. are not resolved, then you could be divorced in less than six months, provided that your lawyer expedites the process.
You can shorten the divorce process by picking a lawyer who agrees to finish as quickly (and cheaply) as possible without sacrificing your interests. Promptly file your petition for dissolution of marriage and begin simultaneously to resolve everything. Be reasonable in your demands and weigh the benefit of a prompt settlement against the time, expense, and agony of protracted litigation, which may benefit no one but the lawyers. Promptly schedule a four-way settlement conference or mediation. If the case cannot be settled immediately, the issues and necessary discovery may be limited and verified later for a prompt settlement. Some cases are not settled until the parties reach “the courthouse steps.” So you need to get a final hearing date. The deadline will pressure an amicable settlement.
Insist that your lawyer get your case at issue as soon as possible so that you can obtain a final hearing date, at which time the court can resolve anything left to be resolved. Don’t allow your lawyer to get bogged down in pleadings and motions. Begin immediately your discovery of the facts you need to know and/or prove so that you do not cause any delay. Do not initiate any unnecessary discovery, and promptly provide the discovery requested of you to avoid a delay. Six months from the date of filing is sufficient time, even for a complex case, if discovery begins immediately and simultaneously with your settlement efforts.
Don’t allow your lawyer to over-litigate phoney claims — such as bogus child-custody accusations — which permit your spouse to delay the final hearing. More is not necessarily better. Streamline your evidence so that the final hearing will be completed within the time allotted, and trust the court to see through your spouse’s phony claims.
William A. Daniel, Jr. is a Board Certified family-law attorney who primarily represents individuals throughout Dade and Broward counties. He is physiologically attuned to the stress and difficulties associated with divorce.