How soon can I file for divorce after marriage?

Unfortunately, “I do” can turn to “I don’t” faster than expected. How soon after the wedding bells stop chiming can a divorce be filed? Are there laws that come into play here? Some lawyers and law-affiliated professionals shared their insights below. Keep reading to learn about legally navigating your post-nuptial dissatisfaction.
Nate Nead

Nate Nead

Principal at

Many Factors Determine Divorce Length

If you’re thinking about divorce, it’s important to know that a few different factors can affect how long the process takes. One major consideration is where you live. Every state has its own laws and requirements when it comes to divorce proceedings, which could speed things up or slow them down.

Before even being able to file for divorce in most states, you’ll need to meet specific residency requirements. Additionally, some states might mandate waiting periods post-filing before your actual separation is legally finalized (for example, California requires a six-month wait).

The amount of time all this takes may also depend on whether or not you and your soon-to-be-ex are able to agree on key terms related to your split (such as division of assets and child custody). If both parties are willing and able to come up with an understanding without much fuss or disagreement (known as “quickie” divorces), then getting everything settled will often take less time.

On the other hand, if you two cannot agree on certain aspects of the separation (such as spousal support), then it’ll be necessary to file for what’s called a contested divorce. These types usually take longer because court proceedings are required in order to determine resolutions for all issues related to the case.

In Most Jurisdictions There’s a Waiting Period

In most jurisdictions, there’s typically a minimum time period that is legally required before a divorce can be filed. This period is normally around a year since the date of marriage. This regulation serves to create a pause for possible reconciliation or thoughtful contemplation before ending the marriage legally. The law does concede that there can be instances of such intensity that the one-year wait becomes impractical. In these rare cases of extraordinary difficulty, a divorce application might be lodged even a week post marriage, granted that the difficulty is pleaded and sufficiently validated.

The moment a divorce application is submitted, the course of the legal procedure can diverge considerably. It might span a few months or stretch to several years, contingent on the degree of consensus and collaboration between the parties concerned. The more agreeable and conciliatory the couple, the more streamlined and expedited the procedure is likely to become. Additionally, there’s often a ‘cooling-off’ phase post divorce filing, prior to its finalization. This interval differs significantly across states, with some having no such phase and others mandating a period of up to 365 days.

These intricate and nuanced laws underscore the necessity of engaging a family law specialist when contemplating divorce. Every circumstance is distinct and warrants individualized counsel and direction.

Laura Wasser

Laura Wasser

Family Lawyer and Chief of Divorce Evolution at
Dorit L. Goikhman, Esq.

Dorit L. Goikhman, Esq.

Attorney and Mediator and Founder of Off the Record Mediation Services LLC.

Dependant on the State’s Divorce Jurisdictional Requirement

Parties can file for divorce as soon as they meet the jurisdictional requirements for divorce in the state they are divorcing in. This can vary enormously by jurisdiction.

In California, for example, it will take a minimum of six months to obtain a divorce, assuming other jurisdictional requirements are met in that time. Some states may take even longer, up to a year.

The quickest state to obtain a divorce in is Nevada. Nevada has a six week minimum residency period, and no “cooling off” or waiting period to obtain a divorce.

Know Your State’s Requirements

The short answer to your question is that in most states, a couple may file for divorce after marriage. However, the time you must be married before filing will vary from state to state. It is important to note that some states require couples to wait up to one year or more before filing for divorce.

To ensure your rights and interests are fully protected, it is important to understand your state’s specific requirements. It is best to consult with an experienced family law attorney before filing for divorce. For example, in Florida, a couple must be legally separated for at least 20 days before the divorce can be finalized.

Andrew Pickett

Andrew Pickett

Lead Trial Attorney at Andrew Pickett Law.
Steve Sacona

Steve Sacona

Legal Writer at Top10lawyers.

Shorter Waiting for No-Fault Divorce

The ability to file for divorce after marriage varies depending on the laws of the jurisdiction in which you reside. In many places, there is a waiting period or a minimum time requirement before filing for divorce. This waiting period can range from a few months to several years, and it is important to consult with a legal professional or research the specific laws in your country or state for accurate information.

Additionally, some jurisdictions have “no-fault” divorce laws that allow spouses to file for divorce without proving fault, and the waiting period in these cases is typically shorter. It is advisable to seek guidance from a family law attorney to understand the laws applicable to your situation.

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