By Sandra Burt
The statutory waiting period for a divorce in Arizona is sixty days, so when I tell clients that they should actually plan on a year to resolve their case the response is often confusion. Why does it take so long to finalize a divorce?
In truth, the length of time it takes to resolve a case varies; but generally when attorneys are involved there is more complexity to the case and thus more things that need to be done to ensure the parties have a fair agreement. During the course of the year the attorney and the client are very busy, they are spending that time actively readying the case and pursuing settlement; there is no idle time, everyone is working diligently to create a full picture of the marital financial situation and a full picture of what would be appropriate for the children. Oftentimes other professionals are consulted as well, to help with some financial aspects of the case, or to address concerns regarding the children and what each parent believes is in their best interest.
I like to think of the family attorney as the head of the fish guiding the tail. The goal is always to have a complete picture so when the parties are ready for mediation or a trial, all information regarding the children, finances, debts, and values are at the attorney’s fingertips. Although it may take longer to prepare a case and the long process can be frustrating, in the end the process ensures that the parties and their children are protected. It is better to spend the time during the initial part of the case gathering information than having to drag the process out even longer at a later date, trying to set aside a final Decree because things were rushed, poorly organized, or missed altogether.