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How Soon Can I Be Divorced?

Updated: Apr 4, 2022

I'm Never Getting Married Again - Maybe

Some people are so traumatized by the process of divorce that they vow never to get married again. For example Kelly Clarkson, the singer/entertainer, who has been involved in a contentious divorce from her husband, Brandon Blackstock, stated that when she is finally divorced from Blackstock she is going to be “single forever.” That observation is mild compared to the ex-husband who declared, in the aftermath of his brutal divorce case; “I’m never getting married again. I’m just going to find myself a woman I don’t like and give her a house.”

However, some people can’t wait to get back on the matrimonial merry-go-round. In my divorce practice, I have seen people jumping right back into a new relationship, even before the old one has been formally, finally and solemnly interred into the ground of dead marriages. This push to commit matrimony again leads to a number of interesting telephone calls between the divorce attorney and the client.

Let’s set the stage. As soon as the divorce case is settled, by virtue of a separation agreement, settlement stipulation or trial decision, one of the divorce attorneys is required to prepare and submit to the judge the proposed final divorce decree and related documents. When the attorney submits the papers, it is common for clients to ask; “So, when will I be divorced?” The answer given by most attorneys is, “as soon as the judge signs the papers.” Says the client, “Well when is that?” Good question.

The reality, ignored by the anxious client, is that the judge has a stack of divorce papers on his or her desk that look a compendium of telephone books piled one on top of the other. After all this client’s divorce papers is only one of several hundred sets of papers sitting on the judge’s desk. Typically, the attitude of the judge is “I will get to all of them as soon as I can. If they waited two years to settle their divorce case they can wait a few months more. What’s your hurry?” says the judge. Let’s now examine why the clients are feverishly calling their attorneys.

In some instances the reason is economic. Some people want to transfer or sell assets (like stocks, bonds or real estate) that they are entitled to under the settlement agreement. Or perhaps someone is waiting for the divorce decree to be finalized so that they can divide pension or retirement assets that cannot be moved without that final divorce order from the court.

Sometimes, the reason has to do with income taxes. If the divorce papers are signed before December 31, the law considers the spouses “single” for the entire year and they can now use that filing category on their tax return, along with the favorable tax treatment, instead of the worst filing category - “married filing separately.”

These are all sound albeit mundane reasons why clients call their attorneys every day to find out if the judge signed the papers. However, I have had a considerable number of cases where the reason is much more personal and urgent to the client. The wedding invitations are out and the date for the client’s remarriage to someone else is coming up soon.

“Well who told you that you could send out the wedding invitations,” I would say. This is where the client has “selective memory amnesia.”

“You told me the judge would sign the papers in a couple of weeks.”

“No”, I remind the client, I said “approximately four to six weeks and you never told me that wedding invitations were going out.”

Now I have to call the judge’s chambers and have that sweet, syrupy conversation with the judge’s secretary or law assistant to “pretty please” move my set of divorce papers to the top of the pile, while promising never to call again or to object to any of the judge’s rulings and whatever else I can think of to offer. Sometimes it actually came down to the week of the wedding. So much for I am never getting married again!!!

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