How Long After Marriage Can You Get a Divorce? (or annulled)

Mistakes are a common part of life — even marriage mistakes. If you believe you’ve exchanged vows with the wrong partner, the law allows you to right your wrongs. But how soon after marriage can you get a divorce?

As a general rule in most states, you can file for divorce within 30-90 days after getting married. However, some states require a 365-day waiting period. Getting the marriage annulled, however, may speed up that process.

To get a clearer picture of what your state’s laws say, you can seek legal advice from an experienced family law attorney in your state of residence.

But why endure for so long?

Regardless of what your state’s laws say, you don’t have to wait for up to 365 days to achieve your freedom. Read along to discover the faster ways to sever your marriage ties, beginning with annulments.

How Long After Getting Married Can You Get an Annulment?

For spouses who want a quicker separation, an annulment is usually the most preferred option. That’s because, typically, you can file for an annulment any time after the marriage, irrespective of your state of residence.

So how do annulments work?

What Are Annulments?

An annulment is a court order that declares a marriage invalid (or null and void). When this happens, the law believes such a marriage never took place.

As a result, annulled marriages are easier to get over with as they provide little or nothing to deliberate over, such as the division of property.

Grounds for an Annulment

The family court won’t grant an annulment for any reason. You have to be eligible for annulment by proving that your marriage happened under any of these conditions:

  • You, your wife, or both of you were under the age of eighteen when the marriage took place. Underaged persons are unable to give legal consent for marriage.
  • You and your wife are related and, for that reason, should not have been joined together as husband and wife.
  • The marriage was founded on lies, falsehood, or deception. For example, if your wife doesn’t have a womb but made you believe otherwise or if she failed to disclose a criminal history or an ailment.
  • You were coerced into the marriage.
  • You or your wife were under the influence of alcohol or hard drugs.
  • You and your wife were unable to enjoy sexual relations for physical reasons.

Again, each state is left to decide what grounds are weighty enough to warrant an annulment. Consult a divorce attorney to get specific information on what grounds your state allows for an annulment.

Is Annulment Better or Faster Than a Divorce?

Although every divorce case has its peculiarity, many people regard annulment as a better option for the dissolution of a marriage. A host of reasons are responsible for this preference.

First, let’s see what a divorce is about.

What Is a Divorce? 

A divorce is a formal way of putting an end to a marriage. When one spouse files for divorce, the divorce proceedings start. The state residence requirements must be met by at least one of the parties. States demand proof that the other party got the divorce papers from the petitioner’s spouse.

All marital problems and legal issues are resolved through a divorce, including allocating assets and liabilities, spousal support, child support, and child custody. If you get an absolute divorce, you will be free to remarry afterward.

Different states have different legal requirements for how and when to file for divorce. Additionally, you can file for different types of divorce.

Types of Divorce (fault and no-fault divorce)

There are two types of divorce. These are the fault divorce and the no-fault divorce.

A fault divorce means a married person must show why their marriage should be terminated. These reasons include:

  • Your spouse suffers a physical inability to have intercourse
  • Irreconcilable differences that have caused a breakdown of the marriage.
  • Domestic violence
  • Your spouse abandoned the marriage. Learn from a recent article how to file for divorce because of abandonment
  • Your spouse suffers from alcohol or drug addiction
  • Your spouse has been imprisoned
  • Your spouse suffers from mental incompetence
  • Your spouse committed adultery

On the other hand, a no-fault divorce doesn’t require the plaintiff to show any reason for terminating the union. Even though many states are fault-based divorce states, every state allows no-fault divorce.

Divorce vs. Annulment: Which Is better or Faster?

Many people prefer annulment to divorce for several reasons. Namely:

  • While divorce requires property division, an annulment would not because the law regards the wedding as having never happened
  • While divorce involves spousal support, an annulment wouldn’t.
  • You can file for annulment any time after the marriage, but for a divorce, you may have to wait for up to two years, depending on your state of residence.

If you are beginning to like the idea of annulment, this recent article of mine provides all you need to go about it.

Does the Waiting Period for Divorce Apply if You Just Got Married?

State laws mandate a waiting period for finalizing a divorce application. This waiting period is mandatory for all couples, no matter how long the marriage has lasted.

Are you hearing about the waiting period for the first time? Here’s what it’s all about.

What Does a Waiting Period Mean in a Divorce?

In most states, you must wait a specified amount of time after filing for divorce before you may finalize or complete the divorce. This is referred to as a waiting or cooling-off period for divorce. The mandatory waiting period is the earliest date for the dissolution of marriage.

State-to-state variations in waiting times for divorce range from 0 to 365 days. However, most states have a range of 30 to 90 days.

For example, while states like Illinois and North Dakota have no waiting period, New Mexico and Missouri’s waiting periods are 30 days. Texas and Michigan mandate 60 days, Colorado and Massachusetts mandate 90 days, while the waiting period extends to 365 days for Maryland and Nevada.

When Does the Waiting Period Commence?

The cooling off period begins on the day the plaintiff serves their partner the divorce papers. To be precise, the waiting period begins when the other partner acknowledges receipt of the divorce notice.

For instance, if the plaintiff serves the divorce papers on January 9th and their spouse receives the documents or acknowledges receipt on the 5th of February, the waiting period begins on the latter date.

What Is the Fastest Time You Can Get a Divorce?

It’s difficult to pin a timeframe on any divorce process as several factors can delay or expedite a divorce case. These factors include a waiting period, a period of separation, and residency requirements.

Your divorce application can run its course within a few months or take several years to conclude.

If you are worried about how long your divorce may take, here are the factors that will determine how fast you can become a divorcee.

  • The waiting period in your state 

As we’ve earlier seen, you are bound by the length of the waiting period that holds in your state of residence. The longer the waiting period, the longer your process of divorce.

  • The residency requirements of your state 

Before you can complete your divorce process, you must meet your state’s residency requirements. This requirement, amongst others, has to do with the length of time you should have lived in the state before effecting a divorce. Speak to a divorce attorney in your state to get the specifics.

  • The period of separation in your state 

Some States will only entertain your divorce application if you have fulfilled a period of separation. A period of separation is the length of time you must have lived apart from your spouse before filing for divorce. The most common period of separation is 12 months.

  • Whether your divorce is contested or not 

There is a contested or uncontested divorce. A contested divorce generally takes a longer time to conclude a final hearing than an uncontested divorce. This is because both partners are not on the same page and must argue their case during a court hearing. On the other hand, uncontested divorce is smoother, faster, usually involves a separation agreement, and requires no trial.

An uncontested divorce is also possible when one spouse applies for divorce while the other does not respond to the petition or wants a court case. When this occurs, only one spouse will petition the court for a divorce, which will advance the case. In certain places, no hearing is required if the judge finds that the spouse is entitled to what they are asking for reasonably.

  • How long it takes to resolve divorce conflicts 

Divorce conflicts could be hydra-headed and quite complicated. This happens especially when there is much property (like real estate) to share or you and your spouse struggle to find common ground about custody and visitations.

For property disputes, one common challenge is differentiating community property from separate property. Another possible contention could be about having an equal right to property or not. In some cases, divorce settlement disputes can drag on for over a year. You can avoid a protracted dispute over money by following the tips in my recent article.

  • The speed of the court procedure in your state 

Many times, the judicial system in your state of residence could stall your divorce process. Divorce proceedings will take longer in States with slow judicial systems or a massive backlog of unresolved cases. In many cases, it could take months to get the court’s attention to your lawsuit.

  • Whether your divorce is fault-based or no-fault based 

Your divorce application will drag on for longer if you have to convince the court of the need for marital termination. No-fault divorces are usually quicker to get a final judgment.

  • How soon can you serve the divorce papers? 

A seemingly straightforward legal process, such as serving divorce papers to your spouse, could produce some drama. In several cases, spouses could do everything to avoid getting served the papers, thereby delaying the process.

Where Is the Quickest Place to Get a Divorce?

Quickest places to get a divorce are;

  1. New Hampshire
  2. Alaska
  3. Wyoming
  4. Idaho
  5. South Dakota

Location is an essential factor in determining how soon you can separate from your partner. State divorce laws and court processes could either elongate or speed up your divorce.

Places like South Dakota, Washington, DC, and Alaska have no residency requirement hurdles. Also, divorce will be naturally faster in states with zero waiting periods, such as Illinois, Nevada, and North Dakota. Alaska also has no mandatory waiting requirements.

Nevada and Idaho have a six-week residency requirement, making divorce significantly faster than in most other states.

Also, Wyoming, with a 20-day waiting period, and New Hampshire, with zero waiting periods and swift divorce processing time, are great places to get a quick divorce. As a matter of fact, it is possible to get a divorce done in New Hampshire within 24 hours.

Which State Is Easiest for Divorce?

From court filing fees to the time period required to complete a divorce process, divorce could be quite cumbersome, depending on where you live. However, the divorce process is significantly more straightforward in some states than others.

Divorce filing fees are the cheapest in South Dakota. The state charges $50 for filing fees.

In contrast, some other states charge up to 5 to 8 times higher than that. For example, the court filing fee is roughly $263 in Vermont and the highest in Florida, which charges $409.

If My State Has a Long Waiting Period for Divorce, Can I Get a Divorce in Another State?

The purpose of residency requirements is to discourage divorce seekers from hopping to a state with a more lenient State divorce law.

But it could be in your best interest to end a marital union as soon as possible. Therefore, you might need to explore other options if your state requires a lengthy mandatory waiting period.

You can only file for divorce in the state and county with jurisdiction. Even so, you are not required to file in the state where your marriage license was obtained or even where you presently reside. You can find your way around a long waiting period by filing in the state where you and your wife cohabited.

You can also file for divorce in a state where your wife meets residency requirements.

Which States Have No Residency Requirements for Divorce

As we’ve seen, there are no basic residency requirements in Alaska, South Dakota, or Washington D.C. Therefore, you can start the divorce process as soon as you move to these places. For states that have, there are certain intricacies you should put in mind.

Typically, the county where the filing spouse currently resides is where the divorce is filed. State minimums for in-county residency are frequently lower than those for in-state residency when they do exist.

If one spouse is still residing in the county where the couple last shared housing, the divorce must be filed there, although, in some states, you can file in the county where either spouse resides.

In some places, if both spouses reside in the same state but live in different counties, the divorce petition should be submitted in the county of the spouse who is not filing.

No Such Thing As a 90 Day Waiting Period

Final Thoughts

Getting a divorce is never easy. However, you shouldn’t let the rigors of the process keep you in an unwanted union more than necessary. Instead, you can find ways to easily break the legal bonds between you and your partner.

Besides finding faster and easier routes to getting a divorce, you can also roll back the hands of time by getting your marriage annulled. If your marriage qualifies for an annulment, you can go back to your bachelorhood days and a clean slate.

It’s now in your hands.


Image by Tumisu from Pixabay and Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay

Jeff Campbell

Hi! I'm Jeff Campbell. I am a father and blogger and recently divorced. I love spending time with my 3 daughters and am still learning how to navigate life as a single dad and ex-husband; a life I didn't choose but have accepted.

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