Timeline for Divorce

When couples decide to get divorced, they typically don’t know what to anticipate for. In the end, divorces are complex legal processes, and it can be full of unfavorable surprises and frustrating holdups. It’s without fail helpful to examine a legal divorce timeline to provide you with a general idea of what’s possibly going to happen so you can help yourself feel more comfortable at an unpleasant time.

The below timeline provides you with a general idea of how a normal divorce is going to proceed, even though your divorce might not adhere to the exact timeline that follows because of particular matters among you and your spouse or because of particular state laws.

1. Beginning the Divorce Legal Process

To begin the divorce, one of the spouses hires a lawyer, that creates a petition (a complaint), which is legal documentation that details the reason the spouse wants to get divorced and how they wish to resolve finances, custody, and other matters.

2. Filing and Serving the Complaint

The lawyer files your petition within the court. The lawyer or the court ensures that the petition/ gets served to the other spouse, along with a summons that necessitates that spouse’s response.

3. Receiving Your Spouse’s Answer to the Divorce Complaint

The spouse that was served has to give a response within a specific time (typically around 3 weeks). The response declares if the served spouse is in agreement with the petition. If they don’t respond to the petition, the court presumes that they agree to its conditions. The response indicates how the served spouse would like to deal with divorce determinations.

4. Initiating the Property Division Process and Exchanging Documents

The spouses exchange documentation and information on matters like property and earnings. By reviewing this information, the spouses and the court can determine how to split up property and how to handle child support and spousal maintenance.

5. Entering into Mediation or Settlement

Occasionally, the spouses can willingly resolve all their matters using mediation or settlement. Many states require that spouses getting divorce undergo this process.

When a settlement can be reached, the settlement agreement is presented to a judge at an unofficial hearing. The judge is going to ask a few fundamental factual questions and whether each spouse understands and decides to sign the agreement.

6. Obtaining Court Approval for Any Settlement Agreement

If the judge authorizes the agreement, they give the spouses a divorce decree that details what they agreed to. If they do not authorize it, or if the spouses do not come to an agreement, the case is going to head to trial.

7. Proceeding to a Divorce Trial

At trial, lawyers present evidence and arguments for each spouse, and the judge determines the unresolved matters, comprising of child custody and/or visitation, child and spousal maintenance, and the splitting of property. Following the judge reaching a decision, they will award the divorce.

8. Appealing the Judge’s Decision

Either and/or both spouses could appeal the judge’s determination to a higher court. But it’s uncommon for an appeals court to reverse a judge’s determination. Also, don’t forget that settlements typically cannot be appealed when both spouses agree to their conditions. Nevertheless, following trial, if there is something that is required to be changed, you might be able to alter the divorce decree.

A Divorce Timeline: Wrap-Up

It’s difficult to say how long these steps are going to take in your divorce and in your state. The complete process can take from a couple of months, up to many years. In general, the more the spouse can work together and agree to rational compromises, the more streamlined and faster the divorce is going to go.

Successfully Maneuver Your Divorce Timeline with a Knowledgeable Lawyer

An experienced divorce lawyer can reliably guide you through the divorce timeline of events and safeguard your financial security, usually discovering matters before they become actual problems. From initial guidance on what paperwork to bring to your initial consultation, all the way through direction on litigation, trials, and court orders, a divorce lawyer is going to argue for your best interests.


    1. A divorce timeline. Findlaw. (2019, July 1). Retrieved October 11, 2021, from https://www.findlaw.com/family/divorce/a-divorce-timeline.html.

Speak with our Divorce Attorney in Phoenix & Scottsdale, AZ

Moshier Law should be your choice when you need the best divorce attorney in Phoenix. An experienced family law attorney will work with you to obtain the best possible outcome in your situation. We advocate for our clients, so they have the brightest future possible. Give us a call today at 480-999-0800 for a free consultation.


Jennifer Moshier Collaborative Divorce Lawyer Scottsdale Arizona
Jennifer Moshier, Scottsdale Divorce Lawyer

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