One of the most common questions family law attorneys get from their clients is “How long is this going to take?” Or, “When will this end?” While family law attorneys may not be able to provide a definitive date, or estimate, as to when the case may be over, by assessing various factors in the case, we can provide our clients a better understanding of how long, or short, their case may last.
If there is a high level of animosity between the parties, it is very likely that the family law proceeding may take some time to resolve. Often, parties are so overcome with emotion, disdain and hatred for their spouse, or the other parent of their child, that it is difficult for them to set aside their emotions and attempt to come to agreements to move their case forward. It is critical for family law attorneys to keep their clients focused so that they are able to clearly see and understand the issues, and work to resolve their case.
Hidden Assets and Income
In divorce cases, the determination of assets to be divided is not often cut and dried. A party may be self-employed and may be purposefully decreasing their income by putting personal expenses through the business. There may be hidden sources of income, or a spouse may believe that assets of the marriage are being hidden in safe deposit boxes, or even vaults. The divorce case then becomes a hunt to determine a spouse’s true income for purposes of support, or to create a complete balance sheet of all assets to be properly characterized and divided. The less forthright a party is about their income or their assets, whether that spouse believes the assets are community property or their separate property, the longer the divorce proceeding will take to complete.
Attitude Toward The Children
Are the parents in agreement about how they want to raise their children? Are they in agreement with medical procedures? Food? Do they agree as to which school they want their children to attend? Is one parent overprotective and not comfortable with the other parent exercising custodial time with the children? The answers to these questions suggest how complicated, and how long, the family law matter may be. If one parent is not happy or comfortable with the other parent exercising their custodial time with the child, it will create a longer, more complicated legal proceeding.
While family law attorneys may not have a crystal ball to predict the future of the case, an assessment of such circumstances and factors discussed above is often a strong indicator of the length and time it will take to complete and resolve the family law proceeding.