That's right...you heard it. If you have minor children, you NO LONGER need to wait out a one year separation period from your spouse in order to get a divorce. Effective October 2018, you (parents) can get a divorce based on the grounds of "mutual consent" even if you have not been separated for one year.
In October 2015, a law passed allowing married couples, without minor children, to obtain a divorce, without being separated for one year, as long as they agreed upon certain terms and the agreement was reduced to writing.*
THIS OCTOBER, married couples with minor children will be able to obtain a divorce without having been separated for one year. A few rules apply:
1. You must have a written settlement agreement that resolves all issues regarding alimony, the distribution of property, AND the care, custody, access, and support of your minor or dependent children. TALK TO A LAWYER to make certain all terms are in your agreement to satisfy this rule!
2. If child support is being paid, a copy of the child support guidelines must be attached to the settlement agreement. Even if it is not being paid, you still may be required to have child support guidelines.
3. No one has filed a motion to set aside the agreement since the agreement was entered into.
4. You BOTH must appear for a testimony hearing to finalize the divorce. Easy peasy!
...and VOILÀ! You are divorced and you didn't have to wait a year to do it. Or go through a year's-worth (or more) of costly litigation. HERE'S THE CATCH - YOU BOTH NEED TO ACTUALLY AGREE ON THINGS! Or at least be willing to compromise.
For those of you in the midst of divorce litigation right now, there's still time. You too can get the divorce finalized sooner than your trial (if your trial is scheduled after October 1) as long as you satisfy the rules above.
Okay okay okay, so this sounds oddly celebratory when talking about a difficult time in someone's life. It is. It is because litigation is ugly (very ugly). Litigation is costly (very costly). If you do not have to go through it and there is an incentive (i.e. time and money) to finalize your divorce as peacefully as possible, you're darn right that's something to celebrate!
*Some additional rules apply.