How Long Do Child Custody Cases Take?

If you’ve just initiated your child custody case, you might be wondering how long the custody battle will last. There’s no straightforward answer to this question because each child custody case is different, and there are several factors to consider before the case is resolved. 

Factors Affecting the Length of a Child Custody Case

The following factors affect the duration of a child custody case. 

If the Case Goes to Trial or Not

Not all child custody cases are decided in court. For example, suppose the divorcing parents have a unified approach and resolve how they’ll handle their parental responsibilities. In that case, they don’t need a judge to decide on their behalf. 

Custody arrangements outside the courtroom take a shorter time than custody arrangements occurring in a courtroom. In most cases, the court will honor the out-of-court agreement between the divorcing parents as long as no one contests the agreement. 

However, if the divorcing parents fail to reach a custody agreement outside the courtroom, they’ll need to file the case in court. It’ll now be upon the judge to decide the child custody case. 

The court process is often complicated and involves several procedures. Courts usually have a tight schedule, and it’ll take several trial dates before a child custody case is resolved. Most of the time, hearings get rescheduled due to various factors, and sometimes, a child custody case might take up to 18 months or more before it’s concluded.

Attending court sessions from time to time can be stressful, especially if you have other obligations. For this reason, it’s highly advisable that divorcing parents reach an out-of-court custody agreement. When it comes to issues involving your family and children, you and your co-parent are better suited to understand what’s best for your child. 

How Long Does The Child Custody Mediation Process Take? 

The direction of the mediation process also determines the duration of a child custody case. Mediation is often the preferred option when divorcing parents can’t resolve child custody issues independently. It saves the parties involved the amount of time and money needed to go to trial.

Family judges will often assign a mediator to a child custody case before the case is presented in a courtroom. The mediation process usually takes place at the mediator’s office. You and your attorney will be allocated one room, and the opposing party and their attorney situated in a separate room. 

The mediator will encourage dialogue between you and your co-parent. Hopefully, the discussion should lead to a resolution rather than the case proceeding to trial.

The mediator will also help you and your co-parent come up with a parenting plan that includes the following:

  • parenting schedule;
  • co-parent communication;
  • travel and vacations;
  • how to share expenses;
  • and many other important details. 

Afterward, the mediator will present the parenting plan agreed upon by both parents to the judge, who will then make a final decision. The time it takes to conclude the mediation process depends on how you and the opposing party spend time and energy settling the case. However, it is worth noting that resolving such a case through mediation takes a much shorter time than proceeding to a trial.

If you and your co-parent fail to reach a custody agreement through mediation or if certain factors render the agreement inappropriate, the child custody case will have to proceed to trial. 

The state and county where you file the child custody case matters when determining the duration of the custody battle. For instance, if you filed for divorce in a county with busy courts, the process will take longer than in a county with less busy courts. 

Other common factors that determine the duration of a child custody case include: 

The Judge Assigned to Your Case

The judge assigned to your case determines how long the child custody case will take. Some judges take more time to carefully analyze details of your case before they set the trial dates, meaning a more prolonged child custody case.

Some judges may require the divorcing parents to appear in court several times, while others may require them to appear just once. As you already know, attending several court sessions in person will take more of your time compared to attending one court session. 

Lastly, the time it takes for a judge to come to a verdict in a child custody case varies from one judge to another. Some judges take a short time to reach their verdict, while others require more time.

You never know how the judge handling your divorce will react to your child custody case and how long it will take them to reach a decision. For this reason, it’s not that easy to predict how long the custody battle will take. 

The Child Custody Attorneys Involved in the Case

The level of skill and experience varies from one attorney to another. However, hiring an experienced child custody attorney to represent you may resolve the custody battle much faster. 

The Case Details

The time it takes to resolve depends on how detailed your case is and the demands of each party. For instance, if all parties want full custody, the case may take longer to resolve. 

Suppose one parent has a history of drug abuse or violence. In that case, the judge will have an easy time deciding because there’s reason to believe that one parent is unfit, and the custody battle may end sooner than expected.

Common Reasons for Dragging the Child Custody Battle 

Several factors may make a custody battle take longer than anticipated. For instance, if one parent accuses the other parent of child neglect, alcohol, drug abuse, endangerment, etc., the child custody case may become complicated and take longer to be resolved.

This is because the court will need to investigate the claims, examine the evidence provided, then rule out or confirm the allegations. For this to happen, witnesses, experts, and the child, in some cases, may have to testify, and this may drag out the case for a very long time. 

Have Questions About the Child Custody Process in California? Contact Castro Law Offices Today

If you are contemplating filing for divorce, or are in the process of getting divorced, and need help assessing your rights pertaining to child custody, Castro Law Offices stands ready to help. We are a premier law firm specializing divorce, child custody, and all other issues concerning California family law. 

Castro Law Offices is based in Novato, California, but is ready and able to provide legal services and advice to clients in and around Marin County including Novato, San Rafael, Greenbrae, San Anselmo, Fairfax, Sausalito, Larkspur, West Marin, Ross, Mill Valley and Corte Madera. Contact Castro Law Offices today to schedule a confidential consultation.

 

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