Understanding the Length of a Contested Divorce: Factors and Delays Explained

Why is My Contested Divorce Taking So Long?


If you find yourself in the midst of a contested divorce, you may be wondering why the process is taking longer than anticipated. Contested divorces involve various complexities and hurdles that can significantly impact the timeline. In this post, we will shed light on the factors that contribute to the length of a contested divorce and help you understand the possible reasons for the delay.

  1. Complexities of the Issues:

Contested divorces often involve complex legal issues, such as property division, child custody, spousal support, and asset valuation. Resolving these matters requires careful examination, negotiation, and potentially expert opinions. The more intricate the issues, the more time it may take to gather information, reach agreements, or proceed to court hearings.

  1. Uncooperative or Unreasonable Parties:

If one party in the divorce is being difficult, uncooperative, or unreasonable, it can significantly prolong the process. Disagreements and disputes over terms and settlement offers may require additional negotiation, mediation, or court intervention. Resolving conflicts and finding common ground between the parties can take time and patience.

  1. Discovery Process:

The discovery phase involves gathering and exchanging relevant information and documents related to the divorce. This includes financial records, property valuations, and other evidence. Discovery can be time-consuming, especially if there are numerous assets, complex financial arrangements, or disputes over disclosure. Both parties need sufficient time to compile and review the requested information.

  1. Mediations and Temporary Order Hearings:

In many contested divorces, parties are required to attend mediation sessions. These processes aim to resolve conflicts or establish temporary arrangements for child custody, visitation, support, and other crucial matters during the divorce proceedings. The scheduling of these sessions, availability of mediators, and the complexity of issues can contribute to delays.  In addition, you may need temporary order hearings (mini trial) to establish important issues early in your divorce such as child support, temporary spousal support, and parenting plan.

  1. Involvement of Ad-Litem Attorneys:

When children are involved, the court may appoint ad-litem attorneys to represent their best interests. The ad-litem attorney’s role is to investigate and advocate for the child’s welfare. Coordinating with these attorneys, attending meetings, and addressing their recommendations can add time to the overall process.

  1. Court Docket and COVID-19 Impact:

Divorce cases are handled by Superior Court judges who often have heavy dockets, including criminal cases. Prioritizing criminal matters can result in delays for family law cases. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has further impacted court operations, with many courts facing backlogs and limited availability for hearings and trials.


The length of a contested divorce can be influenced by various factors, including the complexities of the issues involved, uncooperative parties, the discovery process, mediations, temporary order hearings, involvement of ad-litem attorneys, and the court’s docket. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated delays in court proceedings. While the process may be frustratingly slow, it’s crucial to remain patient and work closely with your attorney to navigate the challenges and seek a resolution in your best interest.