If you've decided to get divorced, you may be worried about legal costs, how much time it will take, and whether you're making the right move. But not all divorces are expensive, stressful, or last for years.
An amicable relationship with your spouse, even after you've decided to go your separate ways, can lead to an easy divorce because it won't involve a trial. An amicable or even somewhat amicable divorce will often result in a quick divorce.
It is possible to get a quick divorce
The divorce process does not have to take years or even months. If you're able to come to an agreement with your spouse about custody, visitation, spousal support, and division of property, your divorce can proceed through divorce court rather quickly.
The easiest type of divorce, which takes the least amount of time, is called an uncontested divorce. This relatively fast divorce happens because all of the major issues have been agreed upon by you and your spouse.
Uncontested divorces take less time than contested divorces
A contested divorce is one where the parties cannot agree on some or all issues. It may involve a trial, and it may involve lengthy settlement meetings. It may also involve digging into your spouse's finances, which takes a lot of time and energy.
An uncontested divorce, however, takes a lot less time because you agree with your spouse about:
- Child support
- Spousal support
- Division of property
- Division of debt
- Other issues, such as education and religion
- Life and health insurance
If you want to get a divorce fast, an uncontested divorce will help you do that. An uncontested divorce also will save you money in legal fees, will reduce stress, and will get you through the court system much faster than a contested divorce.
No-fault divorces versus fault-based divorces
All states have some form of no-fault divorce, although in some states, like Louisiana, you have to be legally separated for a year or more before you can get a no-fault divorce.
A no-fault divorce that doesn't require legal separation also can speed up your divorce because it eliminates the need to prove grounds for divorce, such as adultery, cruel and inhuman treatment, or abandonment. A no-fault divorce prevents the parties from blaming one another for the end of a marriage.
In most states, a no-fault divorce is accomplished by stating under oath—in court or in papers—that you and your spouse have irreconcilable differences or are incompatible. If your divorce is a no-fault divorce, you can claim that you want a no-fault divorce in your divorce papers.
What you will need for a no-fault, uncontested divorce
A divorce can be both no-fault and uncontested. In some states, if you have a no-fault, uncontested divorce, you may never have to go to court, and your divorce can be done on what is called “papers only."
To file a no-fault, uncontested divorce, you'll need:
- To satisfy residency requirements
- To purchase an index number
- To have a summons and complaint or petition served on your spouse
- To have your spouse file a response to your complaint or petition
- To fill out forms that put the case on the court calendar
- An affidavit of service for the papers that were served
- Income, spousal support, and child support worksheets
- A parenting plan in some states
- A marital settlement agreement, separation agreement, or stipulation of settlement—which are different ways of saying the same thing, depending on your state
- Findings of fact and conclusions of law or similar papers
- Judgment of divorce
- Additional divorce papers, such as statements by each spouse
- Any other papers your state requires
The divorce law in your state governs what needs to be filed and how long you need to be a resident before you can file.
Do you need an attorney for a quick divorce?
If you're filing an uncontested divorce, it's a good idea for an attorney to check your marital settlement agreement to make sure it's fair to you and that it's not one-sided.
Likewise, your spouse should hire an attorney to review the agreement. One attorney cannot represent both of you, so you will need separate attorneys. If you know that a particular attorney takes a longer time than others to review papers, you're better off finding another divorce attorney.
Other ways to speed up your divorce
To get a quickie divorce, consider:
- Filing in another state with a shorter waiting or “cooling off" period than in your home state
- Filing in another state with a shorter time to establish residency than in your home state
- Filing in another state if your state requires a year or more of separation
- Having an attorney prepare the final divorce papers for you
- Going to mediation, where you and your spouse work out your own agreement
- Having a collaborative divorce, where you resolve issues with a collaborative team of attorneys without going to court
Many people go to Nevada to get divorced because it has a short residency requirement, which is measured in weeks rather than years. Other states, like New York, have residency requirements of one to two years.
Filing for divorce used to mean high legal fees and long delays to get your case heard in court. By filing a no-fault, uncontested divorce with an agreement an attorney has reviewed—especially in a state with a short residency period—you can get a quick divorce. The benefits of a quick divorce are that it saves money on legal fees and it saves a lot of stress.
Find out more about Divorce