The length of the process of a divorce can vary quite a bit. The single most indicative factor for timeline purposes is the amount of conflict or agreement you and your soon to be ex-spouse have. If you can agree on most things, the divorce may only take a few months. A realistic expectation for a relatively disagreement-free divorce would be about six months for most people.
This estimation starts from the time of your initial consultation to the time that your divorce is final. Your attorney will need to gather information from you. This can take a long time and it can be hard to find the time to get the information or fill out forms your attorney gave you. You will likely have questions about the forms that you will want to consult your attorney about. When you give the attorney the forms, he or she may have further questions or comments for you. Your attorney will get your feedback and draw up the documents, ask for your final review, and make a time for a signing the documents. These will be filed and served to the other party. There is a period of about a month after the service. Service itself can take time.
After the appropriate amount of time, your attorney can then speak with and negotiate with your soon to be ex-spouse or his or her attorney if he or she has retained one. Your initial filing can be turned into separate Settlement Documents as an offer for the soon to be ex-spouse. Many times, even in the best situations, details will need to be changed to meet the requirements of the soon to be ex-spouse. This takes time for redrafting and reoffering and consulting with you, the client. Only when both sides have agreed to and signed all of the Settlement Documents will an attorney schedule an uncontested hearing. It is not unusual for the scheduling of the hearing to be months after the signing and depends heavily on the assigned judge's case load. After the hearing, the judgment is not "official" until 30 days have passed and then a certified document will be sent to your attorney.
Every single document, no matter how small the change, will need to be reviewed by you. Every final draft of a document will require your signature. Many final drafts of a document will require a notary to see you sign the papers, so this almost always requires a visit to the office, and during business hours when most people work. As you can hopefully see now, the scheduling and back and forth can take up a great deal of time.
A timeline such as this requires that you as the client complete tasks like a list of assets and your parenting plans to your attorney promptly. It may be more complicated than you realize at this initial moment, when you are just beginning to consider a divorce. Once you become aware of the details, you will have a better idea of your timeline.
Six months is not the most common timeline. Somewhere between a year or two is far more common because of issues in ideology over children and money most often. There is a great deal at stake and many cases will have multiple different court dates set months apart for different stages of the process between filing and a trial.