Timeline for a Child Custody Case: What You Can Expect

Timeline for a Child Custody Case: What You Can Expect

Anyone who has gone through a divorce can testify to how stressful the process can be. A major contributing factor to that stress is how many parts of the process are unknown or even out of your control. By far, one of the most challenging parts of the divorce process is child custody cases. To help demystify this process, here is a general overview of the custody process and the timeline you can expect.

General Expected Timeline

While it can be difficult to give an exact timeline for how long it takes to reach a custody agreement, cases typically fall into one of two categories: high conflict or low conflict. With the added context of conflict level, it can be easier to determine general timelines you can expect from your custody case. If your case is low conflict, you can expect your case to be resolved in a matter of months. On the longer end of things, custody cases involving minimal conflict may take upwards of a year. In contrast, if your case involves high conflict, it could take over a year to up to three years. This is because high conflict cases often end up in child custody experts becoming involved, extensive discovery, depositions of witnesses, and a trial. With our courts backed up and busier than ever, just waiting for a trial to occur can take over a year, not to mention everything that occurs between the inception of the case and the trial.

Factors That Affect the Length of a Custody Case

Aside from a custody case’s status as a low or high conflict, there are a number of factors that can affect timelines for reaching a resolution. One of the most significant factors is whether the custody case goes to trial. If the divorcing parents are able to agree on their own custody terms without court intervention, the parents do not need to go through formal hearings. In the event that the parents cannot agree, a trial must be held to allow a judge to make the final decision. Trials can also take several days over the course of several months. It is very rare for a trial taking several days to be tried in successive days. This often depends on what county the case is in and how busy the court is.

Before going to court, you can expect to have a mediator assigned to you by the judge overseeing your case. The idea here is that adding another third party that can act as an unbiased representative between the involved parties will help mitigate the need for the case to go to court. However, should you and your former partner go through the mediation process and still disagree, the case will be assigned for court hearings and a trial.

Then there comes the experts. If the parties are unable to agree, they may have to hire child custody experts to provide an expert opinion on what is best for the child. These evaluations can take many months to complete, depending on how busy and thorough the selected experts are.

Naturally, court cases will take longer than out-of-court cases, as hearings will have to be scheduled according to the judge’s and court’s availability. The judge assigned to your case has a major role in the amount of time proceedings will take. Depending on how detailed the judge is, they may want you to appear in court once or several times before reaching their decision.

Speak To a Child Custody Attorney About Expected Timelines

There are a multitude of reasons why the amount of time it takes to resolve your child custody case may be extended. It is often difficult to reliably estimate how long a custody case will take, especially right at the beginning of the case. This makes it all the more important to hire a qualified family law attorney who can work with you to make these proceedings as smooth and fast as possible. Contact the Moskowitz Law Group today to get started.

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