What is the divorce process and how long does it take?

Modified on 26 Sep 2016 at 2:50 pm

There may be some minor variances in your state (click here to view state specific court processing times), but generally a divorce proceeding works as follows:

  • You file a Petition for Divorce in your county – This is the lawsuit or official paper that starts the case. Once you file it, you will have case or cause number and usually be assigned to a court.

  • You give notice to your spouse – In uncontested divorces, it is best to simply provide your spouse a copy without officially serving your spouse like you may have seen on legal dramas on TV.

  • Your spouse officially appears in the case – This is usually done through an “Answer”, “Response” or “Appearance and Waiver of Service” that provides the court with the information on your spouse and informs the court that your spouse is aware of the divorce and plans to participate.

  • Go through the required waiting period – Even if you and your spouse agree on everything and have all of your forms ready, most states require you to wait a period of 60-90 days before the court will approve or finalize your divorce. If there are children, some states or counties may require you to take a parenting course before the court will approve your divorce. You can do that during the waiting period.

  • Schedule and attend your final hearing – During the waiting period, you can usually schedule your final hearing to take place after the waiting period. At the final hearing, sometimes referred to as a “prove up,” you will often have to present your final judgment or divorce decree for the judge to approve and sign. You may have to testify in court to establish the necessary residency requirements before the court will sign your agreed decree. Your LegalVorce package will include an outline of your testimony for you to present to the court.


Your LegalVorce package will make all of the necessary documents available for you to get your divorce completed as efficiently and as stress-free as possible. Check out the LegalVorce Learning Center for specifics in your state.