Going through a divorce can be challenging, as two people prepare to transition to a new chapter in life. Yet many people experience it, particularly here. One study found Louisiana has the fourth-highest divorce rate in the U.S.

There’s one question that comes up frequently among divorce cases. And that is, how long does it take to actually get a divorce? The truth is, it depends on a few factors.

Is it a fault or no-fault divorce?

One of the main factors that will determine how long a divorce takes is whether the separation is considered fault or no-fault.

In a no-fault divorce, neither spouse is explicitly laying blame on the other. They simply do not get along anymore and the situation can’t be fixed. In these cases there is a separation requirement, essentially a waiting period.

If the couple does not have children together, they must have lived apart for 180 days before a court may grant a divorce. If the couple does have children, they must have lived apart for a year. Instances of abuse in the marriage can shorten the yearlong waiting period in some cases. A no-fault divorce is generally a more straightforward option for separating couples, but it does require some waiting.

In a fault divorce, one spouse is blaming the other’s actions as the reason for the separation. In Louisiana there are two legally accepted reasons for a fault divorce: adultery, or a felony conviction.

Pursuing a fault divorce requires proving the fault in court, meaning it can be more involved than a no-fault divorce. But doing so may alter how long the process ultimately takes. A fault divorce may also give one spouse an advantage when the judge determines things like child custody.

Other factors that can affect how long it takes

Additional factors can come into play. For example, the spouse filing for divorce needs to serve the other with divorce papers. If doing so takes a long time, that can delay the process. On the other hand, if the served spouse agrees to waive service and legal delays, a divorce judgment may come more quickly.

While the law provides separating couples a general timeline of what to expect, every case can be a little bit different. However long it does take, the goal is always to minimize the impact on the family and allow everyone to get back to their life.