How Long Will My Family Law Case Last?

It Depends.

The average life span of a family law case can range from a few weeks to several years.  The length of your family law case will mostly depend on three things:

  • How well the parties can agree on certain issues
  • How many issues are present in the case
  • Whether experts are needed to testify about certain issues

Can you agree on anything?

In the majority of family law cases, the parties rarely agree on anything.  Once in a blue moon, the parties are very amenable and already know what they want before stepping foot in an attorney’s office.  If the attorney only has to draw up the paperwork for the parties to sign, then you may be finished with your case within a few weeks.

If you do not agree on anything, then the process will take much longer.  

You may be able to get in court fairly quickly on some temporary matters, such as temporary custody, post separation support, or interim distribution; however, your permanent custody, alimony, and equitable distribution matters may take a two to three years to finalize.  If you must go to court for trial on one or more issues, then you are at the mercy of the court system. Your case could also get continued multiple times for various reasons beyond your control.

Sometimes, even after your case has concluded, one or more parties will violate the court’s order and you must return to court several years down the road to fight about contempt issues.  

Are experts needed?

In custody cases, experts are occasionally required and will need to testify in court when:

  • Either parent needs a psychological evaluation,
  • The court decides to appoint a parenting coordinator to assist the parties with their custody issues, or
  • To prove alienation issues

Remember, these experts need time to get to learn the issues in the case and prepare reports for the court’s consideration.

In equitable distribution cases experts are often needed to value businesses or other martial property.  If an expert is needed to value a business, then the expert will need the requisite amount of time to review the company assets, liabilities, company books, bank accounts, and tax returns.  

Family law cases requiring an expert tend to take longer and are more expensive than those where an expert is not needed.


If you are ready to move forward, please contact us now.

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