How long does a custody battle take? When faced with a custody battle, it can be an emotional and difficult experience. It can sometimes feel like the legal process drags on forever – making the already trying situation even more draining. The actual duration of a custody battle is dependent on several factors and no two cases are alike.
In this blog post, we will discuss how long does a custody battle take to resolve from start to finish in court, what influences the duration of time for resolution, and provide helpful tips for lawyers and custodial parents navigating their way through this challenge.
What is A Custody Battle?
A custody battle is a legal dispute that occurs when two or more parties are vying for the right to have responsibility and decision-making authority over minor children. Custody battles can range from deciding how much time each parent will spend with the child, how decisions about their upbringing and education will be made, who will have access to health records and other documents, and how the child’s financial needs will be met.
Child Custody Case Process
So how long do custody cases last? In order to comprehend the response to this inquiry, you must be familiar with the process and potential obstacles that could delay a case. It all commences when one parent files for legal guardianship which is known as a Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship.
Serving the other parent with a petition is required if they don’t waive service. The recipient of said petition then has twenty days to file an answer along with any counterpetitions for child conservatorship in court. Lastly, the judge will subsequently schedule hearing dates which are pertinent to this process.
An uncontested custody case is one in which parents come to a mutual agreement on the parenting plan. If, however, both sides do not agree with one another’s proposed arrangement – this type of situation would be considered ‘contested’.
In contested child custody cases, the court will typically first seek to settle disputes through mediation – a process that allows for parties to come together and reach an agreement at any time.
Mediation offers a streamlined way for both sides and their counsel to collaborate, with the aid of an impartial mediator, to come up with an agreeable resolution. If parents are fighting over minor issues, family attorneys can help guide them on how judges usually decide those matters.
Being aware of the ways a judge might incline to decide an issue can be motivating for all involved parties, spurring them into making more reasonable decisions. Negotiating an agreement out-of-court is often much quicker and less stressful than going through trial proceedings, as well as being far more cost effective.
Should both parties prove unable or unwilling to come to a mutual agreement, the judge will then hold a trial and make an ultimate ruling that must be adhered to by all.
How Long Does A Custody Battle Take?
How long does a custody battle take depends on a variety of factors such as how well both parties can work together and how involved each party is in the legal process.
Generally, it takes anywhere from two months to one year to complete a custody battle in court, though this timeline may be shorter or longer depending on how complicated the situation is.
Additionally, some states require at least six months of residency before a parent can file for a custody dispute; thus accounting for even more time.
What Influences The Duration Of Time For Resolution?
The court calendar
With court calendars being overcrowded, it may take several weeks for your custody case to be processed and additional weeks before you can make your first appearance in court.
Following that, you could be required to attend mediation and hearings for which slots might not exist immediately. A trial may even take weeks if the judge or courtroom is unable to provide consecutive days of service.
In addition to influencing the outcome and how long does a custody battle take, where it is held also determines its length.
Heavily populated cities generally have a faster case turnaround since they are equipped with extra judges and personnel. However, in small municipalities where the court must serve multiple counties, parents may find themselves waiting longer for their custody hearings as there is often fewer staff members available to process cases quickly.
In order to more efficiently process matters of child custody, states like California have taken the extra step of granting priority status over other civil cases.
The case type
Disentangling from your partner is no easy feat. When divorce or separation proceedings contain issues other than custody, this increases the amount of time it takes to settle these matters in court – you should plan for a minimum of two-to-six months until resolution can be achieved.
For unmarried parents, proving the paternity of their child is an essential step for advancing with a custody case. But if both parties disagree on this issue and require opening up a paternity suit, it will add several weeks to the overall duration spent in court proceedings.
The relationship between parents
Parents in a custody battle should remember that the more they compete against one another, the longer it will take for them to secure a final order. The process is often expensive and drawn out; even after an agreement has been reached, either parent can continue to contest the decision or request modifications – making matters worse.
Parents who are willing to put aside their differences can quickly and civilly conclude their case by crafting a parenting plan.
Any special circumstances
In situations where a history of violence or mental illness is present, the court might require further examination into the matter via custody evaluation or appointment of a guardian ad litem. This process can be lengthy and time-consuming; however, if necessary an emergency order can also be secured with additional paperwork and hearings.
The advancement of your case will remain at a standstill until the other party is notified via custody papers, giving them sufficient time to respond. If their location proves difficult to locate, then it could elongate the duration of your legal proceedings beyond expectations.
If one of the parents is an active duty military member stationed away, courts will typically put custody proceedings on hold until they return home. Furthermore, as a court cannot issue any orders regarding children in utero during pregnancy, it may be necessary to delay your case or wait for the baby’s birth if it arises at this time.
Time Limits in Custody Cases by States
Numerous state regulations mandate the length of time that custody cases may persist.
Minimum time limits
Many states have set a minimum period for divorce or separation cases, in order to discourage couples from hastening into an impulsive decision. For instances:
- Courts of Texas and Indiana stipulate that divorces must last at least 60 days since they were first lodged;
- Arizona courts state that parties need to wait no less than 60 days after service before submitting a settlement agreement; while
- Tennessee requires parents going through the process of divorce or separation are obligated with having their respective cases filed on record for 90 days prior to being able to get a definitive judgment.
Maximum time limits
While these are suggested timeframes, it is important to note that cases may take longer if needed.
- Illinois suggests that custody cases should reach a conclusion within 18 months.
- Ohio sets the expectation that divorce cases should be finalized within 18 months.
- Pennsylvania urges custodial cases to be resolved within 180 days.
- Massachusetts law dictates that divorce proceedings must be completed within 14 months or less.
- Michigan sets the legal timeline for filing paperwork is no greater than 360 days.
How to Shorten My Custody Case?
Now you all know about how long does a custody battle take, and may wonder is there any solutions to shorten the time? Yes, there are 3 ways for you:
- Hire an attorney: An attorney is vital to protect you from potential missteps that could damage your case or even worse, land you in contempt of court. A lawyer will properly fill out all the necessary custody paperwork or how to gather evidence so it gets accepted without any problems as well as make sure deadlines are met throughout proceedings and construct a complete case argument. Additionally, they are experienced with negotiation tactics which can be used to ensure favorable outcomes for both parties involved in settlement agreements.
- Settle your case: By working together and coming to an agreement, you could easily resolve this case in merely a few weeks. You have the option of reaching a settlement independently, with assistance from legal counsel, or by utilizing an alternative dispute resolution technique.
- Have a plan: Prioritizing your needs and coming up with a list of things you’re open to compromise on while preparing for court can be immensely helpful in reducing the stress levels associated with the custody process. Start assembling all relevant information that will be needed during the course of your case before or shortly after filing your custody papers, so as to ensure that everything is readily available when required.
- Set a plan: When creating your case, it is essential to create a thorough parenting plan and custody schedules as well as keep meticulous notes.
And that’s all for how long does a custody battle take. Thank you for your reading and now we have the final part of this article – FAQs.
How to win a custody battle?
Winning a custody battle requires assembling a comprehensive legal argument as well as providing convincing evidence that you have the best interests of your child in mind. Seeking legal counsel can help you build an adequate case and provide helpful advice on how to approach the situation.
Is mediation necessary for a custody battle?
Mediation is not always required but it can be beneficial in certain circumstances. In particular, mediation can help both parties reach an agreement more quickly and amicably if they are able to come to a mutually satisfactory solution. It is important to consider your options carefully before deciding how you want to proceed with the case.
How to deal with an uncooperative parent in custody battle?
Dealing with an uncooperative parent in a custody battle can be difficult. It is important to remember that the court will always prioritize what is in the best interests of your child, so it is essential to provide evidence that proves how this is best achieved through the resolution you are advocating for. Additionally, seeking legal counsel may be helpful in providing advice on how to approach the situation.
Custody battles can be emotionally draining for all involved, but understanding how long it can take to resolve in court, what factors influence how long it will take, and advice on how to best prepare oneself for the legal proceedings may help make the process a bit smoother. Although how long it takes to resolve in court can vary, it generally takes between two months and one year for a resolution to be reached.
It is important to note that how well both parties work together and how prepared they are for the proceedings can influence how quickly the dispute is resolved. Working with an experienced lawyer can also help provide guidance and direction throughout the process and how long does a custody battle take.
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