Quick Divorce: What do you do if you just cannot stand the thought of being married for another minute, but there are all those pesky little details to be ironed out, such as alimony, custody, child support and division of property? Well, if you are CBS network head and Viacom co-president Les Moonves, you simply ask the court to move more quickly.
On December 10, 2004, Moonves appeared before Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Richard E. Denner to request that the court enter a judgment of dissolution as to his marital status only, reserving jurisdiction to decide all other matters down the road. Moonves’s former spouse of 24 years, Nancy Moonves, filed for divorce on April 22, 2003. However, protracted negotiations regarding property and support issues left the parties in marital limbo for nearly two years. Apparently tired of waiting, Moonves, 55, filed a motion requesting that the court bifurcate the issue of marital status from the remaining issues and enter a judgment dissolving his marriage, citing a “desire to return to the status of being single.”
In the declaration filed in support of his request, Moonves expressed a “wish to go forward with [his] life, both emotionally and financially.” Moonves argued that the property and other issues would require a lengthy trial and further discovery and expressed a belief that “terminating the marital status will aid in promoting settlement of this matter.” Judge Denner apparently agreed and granted the dissolution. Moonves did not stay single long, however. He married CBS anchor Julie Chen, 34, in a quick wedding ceremony in Acapulco less than two weeks later, on December 23, 2004.
You do not have to be a billionaire or the head of a major television network to do the exact same thing. Even if your marriage has left you with many complex issues to work out, many states will enter a judgment of dissolution as to marital status only under appropriate circumstances. This will allow you and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse to work out the remaining issues at a later date, perhaps after some of the emotional issues have been resolved. However, unless you are expecting an unusually complicated and lengthy divorce, this will probably not speed things up significantly. First, in most cases, the state in which you file for divorce will have residency requirements, usually six months to a year, which means that you need to have lived in the state for that period of time before you can even file. Additionally, most states contain relatively lengthy “cooling off” or waiting periods, generally three to six months. This means that, even after you’ve filed, the earliest the court can issue a judgment of dissolution is after that period of time has passed.
In Moonves’s case, he could have sped things up earlier on by considering a divorce outside the state of California. There are a number of practical reasons to end a marriage as quickly as possible, such as tax status and emotional closure. When even six months looms before you like a seeming eternity, and if you are willing to shell out some cash, there are other, speedier options you can consider.
While many states have tough residency requirements or lengthy cooling-off periods, there are a few states that do offer a quick out. The best place for quickie weddings in the United States is also the home of the quickie divorce: Nevada. When both parties agree as to all the issues and file a joint petition, a Nevada divorce can be granted in as little as a week. Nevada does, however, require the petitioner to have been a resident of the state of Nevada for at least six weeks prior to filing. In the 1950s, a number of Hollywood movie stars made a party out of it and popularized Nevada dude ranches as an enjoyable place to vacation while waiting out a quickie divorce. So, if you are interested in a six-week vacation in Las Vegas, this may be just the option to get your divorce over with as quickly as possible and celebrate your new single status at the same time.
If even six weeks is too long, there is another option for the more adventurous divorce-seeker. Quickie divorces are available to U.S. citizens in a number of countries overseas, including most popularly Guam and the Dominican Republic.
The Dominican Republic has no residency requirements, but does require one party to attend the divorce hearing. A Dominican divorce can be processed start-to-finish in as little as 24 hours. However, the United States Supreme Court has ruled that unilateral Dominican divorces are invalid, and many states may not recognize even mutual Dominican divorces.
A better option may be Guam. As long as both parties are in agreement and sign a “consent to jurisdiction” form, a Guam divorce can be finalized in as little as a few days without either party ever setting foot outside the United States. While Guam technically has a 90-day residency requirement, a series of statutory loopholes operates to pretty much do away with the requirement for all practical purposes. And, because Guam falls under the jurisdiction of the United States, the divorce will be recognized as valid in any of the fifty states.
Where not to get a quickie divorce? Mexico, once known for its quickie divorces, now enforces strict and prohibitive residency requirements. And Haiti, a once-popular spot to obtain a quickie divorce in the Caribbean, is no longer considered a viable option for United States citizens. Unilateral Haitian divorces are considered invalid in any of the fifty United States. Additionally, one of the parties must appear to obtain a Haitian divorce, and civil unrest has made it too dangerous to travel to that part of the world in today’s political climate.