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Nassau County Family Law Blog

Monday, January 23, 2017

Contested Divorce—How Long Will It Take?

How long should I expect my complicated divorce to take in New York?

A contested divorce is one in which the spouses cannot agree on some or all of the major divorce issues, such as custody, division of assets, alimony, and the like.  Contested divorces can be complex and contentious, leading to stress for both spouses.  If you and your spouse are at odds in your divorce, you may be wondering just how long your contested divorce will take.  The time frame for a contested divorce can vary widely depending on the circumstances of the case.  Some factors that will impact your divorce timeline include:

  • Whether you are willing to go through mediation;
  • If there are children involved;
  • Whether one spouse is seeking alimony;
  • The amount and nature of the property involved; and
  • How many issues you and your spouse disagree on.

Generally, the length of time it will take to divorce grows with the number of contested issues.  Spouses can shorten the time it takes to divorce by working with their Nassau County divorce lawyer to reach an agreement on some crucial issues.

Steps in a Contested Divorce

Your contested divorce will involve several important steps.  In most cases, after the filing of your divorce, the case will be set for a preliminary conference.  During the preliminary conference, the judge will identify the issues in the divorce and assess the complexity of the case.  The court will also provide a discovery schedule.

Discovery is a vital part of any divorce case and can take some time to complete.  During the discovery phase, each party will issue and answer a series of interrogatories.  Parties will turn over various documents of relevance to the divorce, like bank account statements and tax returns.  

After discovery is complete, most divorces will move towards a settlement phase before setting a trial date.  During settlement, you and your attorney will negotiate with your spouse to attempt to reach an agreement on some issues.  At times, the divorce will end here if all issues can be settled.  

For divorces that remain contentious, the matter will be set for trial.  It is not uncommon for a contested divorce to take several months to over a year to complete.  However, with your attorney’s help, you can navigate your divorce in the shortest amount of time possible, while still protecting your legal rights to the fullest extent.


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