Before the pandemic stopped our country and our court system, the legal divorce process took many months to a year (or more depending on financials and custody issues) to be finalized. Now, I can only imagine how hard and frustrating this must be for you to wonder when it’s all going to be over with. And the waiting to plan while not knowing how things are going to be worked out. So many unknowns, what is a person to do?
In most states, not during a pandemic, it takes about 60 days to finalize a divorce, without children; six months to a year with children.
I remember how scared and frustrated when I was in those final months of the divorce process. I was being told one thing but every time I was sent papers to look over, they said something totally different. My lawyer was telling me to trust the process or nothing at all––she would disappear and not return my emails for what seemed like weeks.
How was I supposed to trust this person who barely knew me, never met my children, didn’t seem to understand all of the covert dynamics at play, and who seemed to believe everything out of the mouth of my soon-to-be ex-husband and his lawyer. They had proven that they were liars, but she just wanted to believe that they wouldn’t lie.
“He has to tell the truth!,” she would say. I knew better! The lying had gone on for so long, even in legal matters in the past, that was not going to stop now.
In the end, I’m happy to say everything was worked out. But not because I trusted this people (my lawyer, his lawyer, or him) with my livelihood. I had to trust myself and push for what I would need to survive after divorce.
Reasons why your divorce may be taking so long.
- Your lawyer, his lawyer, and the judge have a lot of cases they’re working on all at the same. Most family law attorneys and judges have a stack they are working on. So as much as they want you to feel like you are a priority, you are not. You are just another case file. This is why it’s so important to advocate for yourself during this time because most times your lawyer (and the judge) is just trying to clear this case file from their desk. The outcome has no effect on them! They easily move on once they’ve finalized that case.
- Waiting on the discovery. This is where both of you turn in as many proofs of property and/or income so that marital assets can be equally divided. If one or both parties refuses to submit all needed papers or turn in false information this could hold things up while you keep asking or have to force the issue.
- No agreement. When there is not an agreement on the final judgment of divorce (when you or he is contesting anything at all) then it takes time to go back and forth between your lawyers and you and your spouse. And this time is money; each lawyer charging for the time to talk to his lawyer and then talk to you. This is why it is best to try to come to a resolution between yourself and your husband, if at all possible so you can save yourself having to talk through your lawyers. But I know, this is not always possible, especially if you’re divorcing a narcissist.
- Everyone is at the mercy of the county clerk’s office and/or the judge to sign. You may have to wait for the paperwork to be submitted and processed by the court in order to get any financial support and the final divorce completed. This usually only takes a few days but garnishing wages can take many months.
Patience and firmness against the opposition is key to getting through this time, while pushing to get things accomplished.
What do I do while I wait for my divorce to be finalized.
I’ve been writing about divorce and coaching women since 2015. I’ve talked to a lot of women in the last six years and most of them want to know, “When will my divorce be finalized?” That is a question that no one but God can answer. I don’t have that answer and neither does your lawyer. We can guesstimate but no one can give you a definite answer.
The effective date of your divorce will be the date that the judge signs the final judgment and enters it with the country clerk.
In the meantime, here are some things you can do while you wait.
- Make sure you have told your lawyer all the things that you’ll need on the final judgment of divorce. You will want to make sure the final decree states everything that you agree with, divides the marital assists fairly, and clarifies in detail how everything is going to go once the divorce is final. If you know your ex-husband will not follow the court order unless forced, have what will happen if he doesn’t clearly laid out in the paperwork, so that you don’t have to take him back to court. Or if you do, he is in clear violation of the order for not following it.
- After all the discovery details have been provided, keep yourself busy. Make a list of all the things you want or need to do after the divorce is final. What things can you check off that list now? How can you start planning and preparing for your future after divorce? Can you start organizing and/or preparing to downsize (as most women do)? What do you have planned for your new beginnings after divorce? What healing books can you read (check out my resources page)?
- Find a support group or individual counselor to walk with you through this restoration journey. Begin your divorce healing while you’re still married once you have all the legal aspects taken care of and you can devote more time to your healing journey. Start to journal your feelings and emotions. Spend more time in prayer while holding onto God’s promises (even for divorced women). And trust you’re still loved and forgive for your divorce. No need for second thoughts!
You got this, Sister! You will get through this time and everything will be finalized in its perfect time.
God’s Perfect Timing
At the end of my divorce, and during all that frustration, I wondering this very same thing. But I’ve learned something that often share with and see happening in the lives of the ladies that I coach. Women want everything to be completed and finalized in a quick hurry so when there is a hold up, they too are frustrated. I now know that those delays needed to happen for everything to be worked out exactly how it needed to be worked out.
When we push for the outcome we want, in our own timing, things could be missed or forgotten. But when we put our faith in the Lord to work things out for our benefit, even if that means things are delayed just a little bit longer, the future is so much better. God really does want the very best for you. Trust Him during this time that you can’t see everything that He is working out behind the scenes on your behalf (or for your children).
God keeps His promises… to give you a hope and a future.
For I know the plans and thoughts that I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘plans for peace and well-being and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. – Jeremiah 29:11 AMP
How long have you been waiting? What are you doing to keep yourself busy and stress-free while you wait?
Divorced ladies: How long did your divorce take to be finalized? Was this pre-pandemic or after? Any advice for others while they wait?
May God bless your divorce and healing journey,
My nightmare and learning process started in 2013 after being married to my high school sweetheart for 35 years. What unfolded was so brutal I ended up with anxiety attacks and PTSD, two things I never thought I’d have to admit to dealing with. My not yet ex husband is a malignant narc and promised to destroy me in 2013 after I discovered he was a sex addict and had been the entire marriage. He promised to destroy me because I discovered who he was and he had to destroy me to protect his reputation. What ensued is the past 7.5 years of a drawn out divorce process not yet finalized and continued abuse from him and his lawyer who I now recognize as a narc herself. I have life-threatening health issues and at 60 years old, my life is greatly shortened. The stress and anxiety from this long nightmare is reducing my life. I see a wonderful Christian counselor and do all I can to remain stable. My faith is in tact but my safety around Christians and church is gone. My husband has a lot of money but he’s bankrupt me as he promised. I’ve learned lawyers, judges, and courts don’t care; the abuse is invisible. I appreciate your ministry and bought several of your publications. Thank you for your wisdom. I have to use a psuedo name because my husband has already tried to have me arrested.
My divorce started right before Covid, I filed in Feb. or 2020 moved out of my home and then the pandemic hit and we were STUCK! no courts, no counseling, no way out! We were living apart and trying o make it through the pandemic and separation period but things got ugly!
I ended up filing after 25 years together and I am still waiting for this to end! your article gave me some hope and positive insight into why being patient is so vital right now. I hear from many women who have had to play the waiting game in their divorces say they regret settling just to get it over with. they wanted to be done with the process and their spouses so badly they gave in and accepted very little or a pay off. The best advice I have received is do not settle for less than you deserve I am worth the wait! So to ride out this time before we go to trial since their is no settlement I am taking care of myself.
I am eating healthy, exercising, practicing yoga and meditation. Spending valuable alone time with myself that I had lost in the marriage. I am working through the stages of grief and anger with a therapist every 2 weeks. I am working full time and living the best version of me right now! I do get anxious and impatient I want this OVER – I want to move and have my freedom from this situation and as you stated above it will end in due time and I will come out of it stronger and smarter and more in tune with myself and my future!