Divorce Procedure in USA

Depending on the reason for the divorce, there are different divorce proceedings in USA. Although the process of a mutual divorce is similar to that of a contentious divorce, it has some significant differences. A particularly quick divorce is a uncontested divorce, as both spouses agree. If there is a valid marriage contract, a divorce is straightforward.

In the case of a disputed divorce, however, a large number of aspects must be clarified in advance, whereby individual court proceedings, extensive formalities and various deadlines can greatly extend the process of a divorce.

How long does the divorce take in court? How much does a friendly divorce cost? How much does a contested divorce cost and how quickly does an uncontested divorce go? What is the process of a divorce with children?

If you are looking for tips and hints for the process of a contentious divorce or the process of an uncontested divorce, we recommend that you read the respective focus articles.

The most important things about a divorce:

  • If you want to file for divorce, you have to file an application for divorce with the competent court.
  • The process of a divorce depends on many different factors and follow-up processes (spousal support, profit compensation, separation of property, custody, child support).
  • A contentious divorce is more complex than a friendly divorce.
  • The process of the divorce can be shortened by mutual agreement of the spouses. The cost of divorce is also lower.
  • Mediation is a cheaper alternative that can also speed up the divorce process.

Duration and process of a friendly divorce?

As already mentioned, the uncontested divorce is a particularly quick divorce in USA. But how long is the duration and the process of a uncontested divorce in USA? In contrast to the disputed divorce in USA, there are no follow-up proceedings, which shortens the divorce proceedings considerably.

In a divorce agreement, all points relating to child and spouse maintenance, asset allocation and custody can be clarified.

The duration and the process of a mutual divorce are influenced by the following factors in USA:

  • Agreement of the spouses
  • Completeness of the required documents
  • Operation of district courts, lawyers and judges

In the case of a uncontested divorce, a divorce consequences agreement or a divorce settlement is concluded. If disputes arise during a uncontested divorce, which in turn must be resolved in separate proceedings and in the context of a contentious divorce, the divorce can take several years.

Divorce expiry of separation year

Compliance with a year of separation is not required when dealing with a divorce in USA. There, the year of separation is part of the handling of a divorce and is mandatory. In USA, a marriage has to be broken for at least 6 months before it can be divorced. However, no court can really determine precisely since when the marriage broke down.

Requirements for a contentious divorce

In order to ultimately get a divorce, however, there must be 3 prerequisites for a divorce:

  • There must be a reason for divorce
  • The marriage must be irreversibly broken.

Because of the reason for the divorce, the spiritual, emotional and physical community of the spouses must be so shattered that the marriage cannot continue. There is also a breakdown if the spouses live apart for a long time.

  • There must be a fault. The reasons for the divorce must have been committed culpably, that is, again, intentionally or at least negligently.

If the claimant wishes to file for divorce, at least one of the following grounds for divorce must exist:

  • Adversary behavior
  • Adultery
  • Severe or repeated light abuse
  • Quarreling and hysteria
  • Neglect of housekeeping
  • Breach of maintenance obligation
  • Malicious leaving

Do you need detailed information about reasons for divorce in USA? Then you should definitely read our article on the topic.

The application for divorce in the case of an uncontested divorce

An amicable divorce is settled in non-dispute proceedings. The divorce contract in the case of a uncontested divorce must be applied for by both spouses together. In addition, the marital union of the two spouses must have been dissolved for at least six months so that the marriage is regarded as broken.

However, no spatial separation is necessary for this, i.e. the spouses do not necessarily have to live in separate apartments.

In this case, however, the budget and the account management should run separately. The divorce petition can be submitted either orally or in writing to the competent district court. In order not to state support for the divorce, the state does not provide a form for the uncontested divorce.

Therefore, we recommend that you consult a divorce lawyer to ensure that the divorce petition is correctly formulated. In addition, spouses with joint minor children must seek advice from a competent person on the rights and needs of their children.

The court ruling is sent to the spouses by post. If neither of the spouses objects within 14 days, the divorce is considered final. Further information on the application for divorce is available here.

Procedure of divorce in court

Just like the application for divorce, the action for divorce must also be submitted in writing to the competent district court. In USA, every spouse has the right to defend themselves, but as this procedure is much more complex than the uncontested divorce, it is essential to consult an experienced lawyer specializing in family law.

As soon as the divorce suit is recognized by the court, an oral hearing takes place. Even in the case of a disputed divorce, the court will pass a judgment which will be sent to both spouses by post.

After the marriage has been legally divorced by the court ruling, further proceedings may have to be applied for. These could be procedures for the following claims: spousal support, child support, property sharing, custody and visiting rights. The costs of a contentious divorce are significantly higher due to legal and court costs.


It is important to note that even in the course of a disputed divorce, you can agree on a mutual divorce. For this purpose, both spouses can file a joint application for divorce at the trial court.

What do you need for a divorce?

In order to be able to file a petition for divorce or file a claim for divorce, some documents must be obtained by the court. Therefore, we will now explain to you what documents you will need to file a divorce petition and a divorce suit.

For both the application for divorce and the action for divorce, you need:

  • Marriage certificate
  • Proof of citizenship of the wife and husband
  • Official photographs of both spouses
  • Registration form
  • Children's birth certificate
  • Documents showing the assets (excerpt from the land register, rental agreement)

In order to be able to complete the amicable divorce as quickly as possible and, above all, to avoid inconsistencies in the formalities, you should fill out the New Jersey divorce forms online together with your spouse.

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