How long should my divorce take me? It seems like a simple question, but there are many variables in the length of time that it takes between the time that you begin a divorce or dissolution and the time that the final order is signed by the judge and your divorce is final.
To begin with, every different divorce court in each different county throughout Ohio will have a different way of handling each case. Sometimes, especially in larger counties with multiple divorce court judges, the scheduling can be different for each judge.
Please keep in mind that, to begin with, you are not divorced until the judge actually signs the divorce decree and that order is filed with the Clerk of Courts. While, most of the time, that takes place within a day or two, or even within a few minutes, of the final hearing, there may be some reasons that that process gets delayed. You are not divorced until the Clerk of Courts receives those papers.
Your case also will get placed on different schedules, which are called “dockets,” depending on what kind of case it is. Generally, divorce cases fall into one of three categories:
You will be placed on a docket by one of those categories, and your case will move through the system based on which category your case falls into.
Another variable will be how much time that the parties and their lawyers spend in pre-divorce activities, and whether or not these activities take place before or after the case is filed. Those activities can be numerous, and can include attempts at reconciliation, mediation, pretrial negotiation, the discovery process, and the length of a trial, if there is one. With that said, you can look forward to the following general schedules:
A dissolution in Ohio requires each party to completely agree ahead of time to every aspect of the divorce. By law, a dissolution has to have a final hearing scheduled with the court between thirty and ninety days of the filing date. And, most of the time, it happens that way. However, that timeframe does not include the amount of time that it will take to negotiate and write the separation agreement that has to be signed before the dissolution is filed.
In addition, any divorce judge can look into the inside of that agreement and refuse to sign it if that judge feels that anything in the agreement is unfair to either party. This would also cause a delay in the scheduling of the final hearing. That is why you need a divorce attorney who is familiar with every judge and every court in your home county.
An uncontested divorce is one in which either the other party did not file and answer, or one in which both parties agree to a divorce. The scheduling of the uncontested divorce docket various wildly among different courts. Some courts schedule these kinds of cases as quickly as possible. Some force these cases to have at least one pretrial. Another variable will be whether or not children are involved, and how each individual court handles that situation. Many divorce cases last considerably longer with children than cases without children involved. A dissolution is also a type of uncontested divorce, which has its own rules under Ohio divorce law. Most of the time, though, if the situation calls for an uncontested divorce, that will be the quickest way to finalize the case.
Again, an experienced divorce attorney who is dedicated to finding the best solution for your domestic situation will be able to advise you if an uncontested divorce is a possibility for you.
There is no real way to answer the question of how long a contested divorce will take, because each case will be different. To begin with, the answer to this question will depend on what is being contested. If it is child custody or visitation, then courts will probably force the case into a mediation to start with. If the dispute is financial, time will have to be taken to obtain all of the financial information of the parties in a pretrial process called “discovery.” This can occasionally be very time consuming, especially if one of the parties is uncooperative or self-employed.
Time then must be taken for negotiation, because no attorney wants to go to trial in a divorce case as a first option. Divorce trials are always time-consuming and painful. The goal is to turn the divorce from a contested one into an uncontested one, and have a hearing in which there is an agreement, so attorneys will always take as much time as is necessary to negotiate on your behalf.
There may be a whole series of pre-trials lasting a period of months. In those rare cases in which there actually is a trial, the entire process can take months- or even, in some rare instances, years. And, to make it worse, many divorce trials can take place over multiple hearings over many months. So the goal of any competent and professional divorce attorney is to avoid a trial whenever possible. Divorce will almost always be a painful situation, but fighting through it will always make it worse.
The domestic attorneys at Slater & Zurz will always work to find solutions to your domestic legal problems that work for you and if a trial is needed, we have the trial experience it takes to prevail in divorce cases.
To learn more, visit http://www.dissolutionanddivorce.com or call 1-800-297-9191.