The first question that many considering divorce ask is “how long will the divorce process take?” It is normal for each spouse to have different feelings about the divorce—even when it comes to the length of the process. Some want the process to be as quick and efficient as possible, while others want to take their time in making sure the process is as thoughtful and measured. Either way, the simple answer is: divorce takes different amounts of time based on the state in which you live and the type of divorce process you choose.
On the simplest scale, you cannot get a divorce in Arizona in less than 60 days. Per Arizona law, (A.R.S 25-329), the court will not accept the final divorce document needed to complete a divorce, also known as a Decree, until 60 days after the date of service. Put simply, service is when the Petition, the document known as the “filing for divorce”, is either served on the other spouse or the other spouse signs an Acceptance of Service.
In litigation with attorneys the other spouse is “served” with a deputy sheriff or process server, which can cause conflict. In mediation, spouses complete the Petition and Acceptance of Service together with their mediator, so no one gets served. This greatly reduces conflict.
Although 60 days is the minimum waiting period in Arizona, the process by which you seek a divorce can greatly affect how long the process truly takes.
Litigation: 8 months to over a year
On average, litigated cases can take 8 to 10 months on the low end, to very commonly well over a year. Litigation refers to the traditional legal process in which each spouse hires their own attorney and battles out their divorce in court. Deadlines, court dates, and other requirements are determined by the court, who sets the schedule for the proceedings. Further, attorneys bill by the hour, meaning the longer the case, the higher the legal fees for the process.
Mediation: 2-4 months
On average, we have found that the entire process from beginning to end for our divorce mediation clients takes approximately 2-4 months in total to complete the divorce. In mediation, spouses are not controlled by court dates, so the divorcing spouses control their own pace. A significant number of divorce mediation clients – about 30% of our clients complete their process in less than 60 days. If so, we still must wait until the 60th day after Acceptance of Service is signed before we may physically submit the divorce decree to the court.
Hourly Billing vs. Flat Fee
We strongly believe that traditional “hourly billing” is not appropriate for divorce cases. We see a major problem with a billing system where professionals financially benefit based on the length of the divorce—where more conflict equals more legal fees for attorneys. Therefore, we approach divorce mediation with a simple flat fee, regardless of the length of time of the divorce process. We never charge by the hour or have any benefit directly associated with how long the divorce process takes.
The length of your divorce is up to you!
Although Arizona has a required waiting period of 60 days, you have a choice about how long the process will take, based on which path you choose. Mediation’s shorter length of time lowers conflict, greatly reduces the cost of divorce, decreases the stress and emotional effects on spouses and their children.