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How Long Does A LegalZoom Divorce Really Take?

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Getting divorced is never easy, but understanding the process and what to expect can help make it less stressful. One common question many people have is “how long does a LegalZoom divorce take?” In this in-depth guide, we’ll break down the typical LegalZoom divorce timeline step-by-step to help you plan accordingly.

The LegalZoom Divorce Process at a Glance

Before going into the timeline, let’s first look at the main stages of a LegalZoom divorce:

1. Gather Documents and Information

This involves collecting necessary paperwork like marriage certificates, tax returns, bank/retirement statements, property deeds and bills of sale. You’ll also need to disclose personal and financial details.

2. File Divorce Papers

Once you have all the documents and information, you can file the initial divorce petition online through LegalZoom. This starts the official divorce proceedings.

3. Serve Your Spouse

After filing, your spouse must be officially notified (served) that divorce has begun. LegalZoom can help facilitate this service.

4. Respond to Petition

Your spouse will have a certain number of days to respond to the divorce petition, usually 30 days.

5. Come to Agreement

Next comes negotiating and agreeing on issues like child custody, support, separating finances and assets. Mediation can help with this stage.

6. Finalize Divorce Decree

Once all matters are settled, LegalZoom will help you obtain the final signed divorce decree from the court.

Let’s now explore each step in more depth to understand how long the overall process typically takes using LegalZoom.

1. Gather Documents and Information

This preparatory stage can take 1-3 weeks depending on how organized your records are and how quickly you can both compile the necessary paperwork. Make sure to involve your spouse to ensure all relevant documents and financial details are disclosed.

2. File Initial Divorce Papers

Filing through LegalZoom’s online platform is designed to be simple and streamline. You can usually submit your initial divorce petition within 1-5 business days once you have all the required information ready. LegalZoom will then e-file it with your local court.

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3. Serve Your Spouse

Service of the petition usually needs to be completed within 60 days of filing, depending on your state’s rules. LegalZoom can handle serving your spouse for an additional fee, often accomplishing this within 5-10 business days through a professional process server.

4. Spouse’s Response

Your spouse will then have the standard response period, normally 30 days, to file their response to your divorce petition with the court. This stage is usually complete within 30-45 days.

5. Reach Settlement

Coming to an agreement on all divorce issues like property division, debt distribution, child custody and support can potentially take the longest – 1-4 months on average. Mediation or collaborative divorce may help expedite this process.

6. Obtain Final Decree

Once fully settled, LegalZoom will prepare all final divorce documents for your approval and e-filing with the court. The turnaround is typically 1-3 weeks to receive your signed final divorce decree from the judge.

7. Total Estimated Timeline

Adding up the average durations at each step, a typical uncontested LegalZoom divorce with no major issues or delays usually takes around 3-6 months total to finalize from start to finish.

Of course, unique circumstances or complications could potentially make the process take longer. And some divorces moving smoothly may finish on the quicker side of that estimate.

But this breakdown aims to set reasonable expectations of the general timeline.

Factors That Can Impact the Timeline

While LegalZoom strives to make divorce as affordable and accessible as possible, there are a few factors beyond their control that could influence how long your case takes:

Court Backlog from COVID-19. The pandemic led to huge case backlogs in many family court systems across the country. This means additional wait times for hearings or obtaining a final decree signing could occur.

Lack of Agreement. Failing to reach settlements on key issues like child custody or property division usually results in longer mediation/litigation times before a judge makes the decisions.

Complex Financial Situation. Divorces involving many assets, businesses, retirement funds or other intricate finances tend to require more thorough documentation and higher negotiation times.

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Multiple Children. Agreeing to shared parenting plans gets exponentially more difficult and time-consuming with each additional child to consider.

Out-of-State Spouse. If your spouse lives in a different jurisdiction, serving them papers and resolving any disputes may involve extra legal hurdles and delays compared to an in-state divorce.

Spousal/Child Support Issues. Calculating ongoing support amounts and establishing payment schedules is an involved process subject to state support guidelines. Challenging circumstances could prolong this part of proceedings.

Trial or Appeals. While most LegalZoom divorces aim to avoid courtroom battles, contesting key issues may require trials that add several more months to a year to complete. And appeals further extend timelines.

Maximizing Efficiency Within the LegalZoom System

While you have limited control over external delays, there are tactics you can employ to help your LegalZoom divorce move as quickly yet smoothly as possible within the typical timeline:

  • Be completely organized and transparent with all necessary paperwork and disclosure from the start
  • Respond promptly to any communication or document requests from LegalZoom or your spouse

-Actively participate in online education and settlement discussions

-Strongly consider mediation if you and your spouse disagree on key issues

-Double check all paperwork for errors before submitting to avoid rework

-Select electronic notification preferences to reduce mail-related delays

-Inquire about expedited service or hearing options if timing is critical

-Request status updates from LegalZoom if time elapses between steps

-Approve and e-sign final documents immediately upon receiving them

By staying on top of each divorce task and communicating proactively, you eliminate idle time between stages which can trim weeks or even a full month off the normal timeline in many cases.

Is The Estimated Timeline Guaranteed?

While the breakdown aims to set realistic expectations, it’s important to note that LegalZoom does not guarantee the specific duration of any individual divorce case. Court systems, state laws, and the cooperation of both spouses all influence the ultimate pace.

Certain events also remain outside of LegalZoom’s control like the timeline for:

  • Your ex-spouse cooperating with requests or deadlines
  • The court scheduling a final judgment hearing
  • The judge signing-off and processing legal documents
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The projected timeline should only serve as a general guideline rather than a firm promise. Unforeseen issues could potentially cause delays no matter how streamlined the process is intended to be.

However, in standard uncontested divorces where both parties are actively participating, LegalZoom claims the vast majority are completed within the estimated 3-6 month window. And their customer experience team is available every step to minimize unnecessary waiting periods.

Overall, it’s reasonable for most readers to expect a LegalZoom divorce filing submitted today under typical circumstances would aim to wrap up sometime within the next 6 months at most. But flexibility and open communication are key to navigate the divorce process efficiently regardless of its final duration.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What if we can’t agree to terms?

If negotiations stall and you cannot reach a full settlement, Litigation or Collaborative options are available. But this significantly extends the overall timeline, usually by 6-12+ additional months depending on the specifics. Mediation remains the quickest alternative.

Can I speed up my case even more?

While their standard package is already very efficient, LegalZoom does offer premium “expedited” options like rush service, extended weekday/weekend support hours or substituting mediation for litigation that may help shave 1-2 extra weeks off in some instances. But these do incur higher costs.

What if my ex contests the divorce altogether?

If your spouse chooses to fully contest the proceedings by denying the petition or attempting to delay signing final terms, this constitutes a legal defense which invariably causes the longest potential delays. Trials alone could add 12+ months or more to the normal process outlined here.

Do I qualify for a divorce through LegalZoom?

LegalZoom divorces use simplified no-fault grounds requiring basic eligibility criteria like having been separated for a certain period, no minor children, low asset value, and marrying/residing in a state where they are licensed to practice virtual law. Their website has a qualification tool to check your situation.

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