Many divorces follow a predictable tract.
A divorce is filed, usually along with a temporary restraining order (primarily prohibiting the wasting of assets). A temporary orders hearing is held within 14 days and the court will establish the ground rules for the remainder of the divorce. These ground rules include who has primary possession of the children, who pays child support and how much, who pays spousal support and how much, who drives which cars, who gets to live in the house, and many other issues.
After the temporary orders hearing, several things can happen. The parties can begin settlement efforts to try to resolve the case. The parties can begin "discovery" to find out information that will help (or hurt) their case. The parties can be ordered to mediation by the judge or simply decide to mediate because they think that it is a good idea. Your attorney can guide you through these activities. This period can last for several months.
At some point, either the parties have settled their case or they have not. If not, then they must get ready for trial. They need to finish their discovery and make sure that their evidence is in a form that will be accepted by the court.
Although some cases have been known to last for years, most courts will send a notice at about the six-month period that the judge will dismiss the case if the parties do not either settle it or set it for trial. It can be very detrimental to a party to wait until this happens to begin preparing for trial. A diligent lawyer will gather facts and prepare for trial from the first day. Very frequently, if one party is ready for trial and the other is not, then the party that is ready has an opportunity to get a very good settlement.