Length of time for finalizing divorce

I was discussing with a couple of friends (also Dopers) my divorce, which will be filed some time next week. I’d expressed some frustration over the fact that in California, no matter how eager my ex and I may be to get this process over and done with, and no matter how well everything is lined up, it will be a minimum of six months from the date of the initial filing before our divorce is finalized. My friends told me that in at least one state, you’re required to live in different residences for a full year before you can even make that initial filing. And yet, based on what an in-law told me once, in Nevada, finalizing a divorce takes only a matter of hours if you’re a resident of the state.

I’m bothered by the fact that there’s so much disparity regarding what various states have decided is an “appropriate” amount of time to allow a divorce to go through. I’ll grant that I have known couples who would probably run for a divorce at the drop of a hat any time they had the dumbest of fights, and I’m guessing (although I don’t know this) that state legislatures are trying to prevent people from making decisions with a potentially deep and lasting impact on the spur of the moment.

But is it really the right of any body of government to make that decision for individuals? If so, why? If I had found happiness elsewhere and wanted to get married to someone new next week, why should I be forced to wait because the state says I’m still married to someone else, even though we both have declared that we no longer want to be married to one another? Does this make any sense?

Here is, by the way, a link to a chart of requirements for divorce, including waiting period, by U.S. state.

Yeah, it does. A waiting period allows both sides to cool off, and avoid rash decisions. Also allows time to work out custody/support/visitation/property issues. Six months seems a little long for a no fault, but not intolerably so.

I think it is ok for the state to impose that (noting that I have been in this position once). I think the notion is that a marriage is a Big Deal and should not be entered into or left lightly.

FWIW our attorneys told us the state did not fuss about the six month thing overly much and suggested the divorce could be finalized sooner if we just “said” six months had passed. Being the son of an attorney and wanting to be sure there was no way for this to come back at me I insisted the letter of the law be followed (wife wanted to finalize it sooner) and waited the six months.

Sounds like a lot but really not too big a deal. If you find someone else you want to be with just play house like you are married till the time is up. The six months passes faster than it looks on paper.

Yes, it is right. If all you care about is love, then you can go be in love. By being married, you’re receiving a wide variety of rights and privileges that are recognized and enforced by the state; with those rights and privileges come whatever obligations the state imposes in return for recognizing and enforcing them.

If you’re going to participate in a particular state institution, you don’t get to pick and choose the degree of your participation.

I tend to agree that a marriage should not be left lightly, and I agreed to be bound by the conditions imposed by California when I got married.

I’m still puzzled, though, at how the various legislatures came up with such wildly (to me) varying definitions of an appropriate amount of time. As you can see from the chart, some states have no waiting period at all. I just happened to be in the state with the second-most vigorous standard for waiting.

Why is having different rules per state a better solution than a Federal law?

Heck, in the UK, you have to be separated for two years before you can file for a no fault divorce (at fault divorces are much quicker). I guess they figure that a no fault divorce may have some opportunity for reconciliation, although two years seems a bit extreme.

Six months seems pretty minor, in the grand scheme of things. Can most complications of divorce (financial/parental) really be sorted much faster? I can understand how the state would require a significant amount of time to resolve these issues before one of the parties runs off to embark on the next major financial, legal and parental commitment.

The reason is that generally marriage is something regulated by the states. Remember that the Constitution delegates certain things to the federal government and leaves the rest of them to the individual states.

The states in turn pass laws that reflect what there particular community wants to have. Most states require that the separation period pass prior to filing so once the papers are filed, things can move fairly quickly if the parties desire it. My state for example requires that you live separate and apart for a year if you have kids or six months under certain conditions, but that time is computed from when you split up.

That certainly can be a reasonable amount of time. But not every couple is so deeply entangled. And yet, in CA or – even worse – New York, there is no allowance for those folks to get out sooner.

The legislature of each state as elected by those state’s residents/citizens decide what is best for their state. If you don’t like the rules of your state, MOVE. There is no overarching need at a Federal level for the their to be a consistent rule of law regarding marriages in every state.

And similar to what hansel said, the state’s laws only govern your rights and responsiblities as married people with regard to taxes, etc. Where and whom you spend your time with is still up to you.

plus, why do you think a uniform federal law would be any better, from your point of view? If Congress had this power, it might decide on a one year waiting period for no-fault divorce, as the federal Parliament in Canada did in our Divorce Act.