How Long Will My Case Take?

The time it takes depends on several factors, including which attorney your ex hires, how ready you are (or the other person is) to get the case resolved, and of course, how many things are disputed. People’s emotions can come into play as well, especially if one person wanted to separate, but not the other person.

Negotiation process

If you choose to negotiate through your attorneys, the attorneys will need paperwork from clients to determine the incomes and, sometimes, living expenses if you are negotiating child support or spousal support. Your attorney will also need documents from you to identify and value the assets and review the outstanding debts. The negotiation process can take as little or as much time as it takes to reach a mutual agreement. It does take some time for all parties and attorneys to get all of the appropriate documentation and correspond with each other or meet to attempt settlement.  No lawsuit is required to participate in child custody mediation, financial mediation, arbitration or collaborative family law.

Trial process

While each case is different, the usual case that becomes a lawsuit involving property, custody and child support, and perhaps alimony, takes about a year if it is tried in court. At least, that is the goal of family court.  There are several phases of litigation.

A document called a complaint generates the lawsuit.  Once it is filed and served on the other party, he or she will generally have 60 days to file an answer and any counterclaims if he or she files a request for additional time.  The party who filed the complaint will then generally have up to 60 days to file a reply to the counterclaims, assuming an extension of time was filed.

Court hearings for temporary matters, such as temporary child support, are usually scheduled for a date that falls 2 or 3 months after the date the complaint is filed. Next is mediation, which the court requires before any hearings on permanent relief are scheduled to be tried by a judge in the courtroom.  If the case is not resolved by mediation, there are many strategic things that can take time, such as depositions, appraisals and discovery. The trial itself will often take several days, and after that, the entry of the order may take a month or two.

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