Getting a divorce is rarely a quick and easy process, but some people take it to the extreme. Actor and former Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger and his wife Maria Shriver are one such couple. The pair first filed for divorce in 2011, and it appears that they are finally wrapping up the process a decade later. Schwarzenegger has finally filed a “declaration of disclosure,” one of the final steps of the separation process in California, after a decade of delays.
When Shriver first filed, the split seemed urgent. She had just discovered that Schwarzenegger had fathered a child with the family housekeeper. However, the separation quickly ran into complications.
For example, in 2011, two of the couple’s four children were still minors. That meant that they had to consider custody during the split, which is never easy. Schwarzenegger’s citizenship status would have only made child custody choices that much more complex.
Meanwhile, the couple had been together for more than 25 years before their split, and they had no prenuptial agreement. That left a significant amount of Schwarzenegger’s film earnings as community property. The couple’s estate, worth more than $400 million, needed to be divided equally between the two. That’s no simple task, and disagreements between the couple behind the scenes could have easily dragged the process out.
A decade-long divorce is unusual, but it’s not unheard of. Here are a few reasons why some divorces can take years to resolve and how you can avoid those problems yourself.
Why Divorces Can Drag On
The Schwarzenegger-Shriver split demonstrates some of the most common reasons a legal split can take a long time. The two most common reasons for a never-ending divorce are child custody disputes and disagreements about the division of assets.
In California, judges will rarely finalize a divorce unless all issues relating to the marriage have also been decided. That means that disagreements about child custody and assets can significantly extend the process. Suppose a couple is trying to avoid having a judge make decisions for them. In that case, they need to come to an agreement on their own or through mediation. The mediation process can take a long time, even if both parties are trying to work together.
While it appears that Schwarzenegger and Shriver were eventually able to work things out, not every couple will. In that case, the case will go before the court. That’s when the discovery process can start to drag things out.
Discovery is the process of collecting documents and information about the couple’s assets. If a couple has many assets, property, and debts, then discovery can take months or years. That’s particularly true if one partner is trying to hide assets or failing to cooperate. The case can’t proceed until the discovery process is complete.
Finally, divorce will take longer if the couple can’t communicate well together or with their representation. The Schwarzenegger-Shriver split may have suffered from poor communication. Before the declaration of disclosure, nothing had been filed by either party’s legal team in four years. That’s a sign that something has broken down somewhere in the communication process.
Strategies to Keep Your Divorce Short
If you’re not interested in dragging out your split, don’t worry. There are several strategies you can use that will help you keep things on track. Here’s what you can do to keep your separation flowing smoothly and get it concluded as soon as possible.
1. Avoid Contesting Anything
Uncontested divorces are the simplest way to separate. When both parties agree on how things will be handled, then the separation process is mostly about making their decisions official.
On the other hand, contested divorces take place when partners can’t agree on how to handle things. These separations spend much more time in the court system since it usually takes several hearings to make all the decisions. The process of scheduling those court dates alone can cause extend the timeline. That’s not even considering the discovery process, which can delay hearings by months.
If you’re trying to keep your separation on the fast track, it’s worth working with your partner. Finding a way to achieve an uncontested divorce will help both of you.
2. Prioritize Communication
Regardless of whether you’re experiencing a contested or uncontested divorce, communication is critical. You need to communicate with your attorney, and your attorney needs to talk with your partner’s representation. Communication is what lets you coordinate meetings and make decisions.
When you go to court, you don’t need to communicate directly with your partner, making things simpler. A reasonable attorney will connect with your ex’s lawyer and hash out the details. Just make sure you’re responsive to your attorney’s requests and send representation to the court dates. If your partner isn’t communicating equally well, it will reflect poorly on them, and the court may take that into consideration.
3. Work with the Right Attorney
Finally, you need to work with the right legal team if you want your split to take place quickly. There are three factors to look for in a great divorce lawyer:
- Timely communication: An attorney who doesn’t make time to communicate with you when you’re choosing a representative won’t have time for your case, either. Choose a lawyer who makes it easy to schedule meetings and consultations.
- Specific expertise: If your marriage involves a large number of assets, child custody, or a prenuptial agreement, you should choose an attorney that specializes in those fields.
- Empathy: Your attorney should care about you and your case, so they give it the attention it deserves.
If you choose the right divorce attorney up front, you can avoid the problems that caused the Schwarzenegger-Shriver separation to see no legal action taken for years at a time.
Get the Quick Divorce You Deserve
There’s no reason to risk a lengthy divorce. You can get your split finalized as quickly as possible when you have a trustworthy legal team on your side. Get started on your new life sooner by getting in touch with an experienced divorce attorney today.