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Child Custody | Family

How Long Does A Child Custody Case Take?

6 min read
Philip Ahn, Attorney

by Philip Ahn, Attorney

Typically, the length of a child custody case depends on how long it takes to reach an agreement between parties. Depending on the case’s complexity and potential legal issues, resolving it could take weeks or months. Factors such as whether a deal is tenable through negotiation or litigation, the court’s schedule and backlog, and any potential appeals process, can also affect the duration of a child custody case. It is important to remember that a child custody case will likely take more than one court appearance and could last for months or even years.

The Process Of Obtaining Child Custody Rights

A court order establishes child custody rights. These rights can vary depending on the circumstances but typically involve several steps.

First, either or one parent can petition for sole custody in their state’s family court. This petition will include the following:

  • Parents’ names
  • Addresses
  • Any relevant history
  • It will also have a proposed parenting plan outlining parental responsibilities, such as:
    • How much time the child spends with each co-parent
    • Child support
    • How to make childcare decisions.

The trial will then conduct a hearing where both parents can present their child custody cases. At this hearing, the judge will consider any evidence provided by either or one parent, such as:

  • Documents
  • Testimony from legal experts
  • Witnesses
  • Other relevant information.

The court will then consider the minor’s best interests when making its final decision, including factors such as:

  • The child’s age
  • Mental and physical condition
  • The ability of each parent to provide a good home environment
  • Any other relevant factors

The trial will then issue a final order granting or denying the request for custody. A court can decide to:

  • Grant primary custody
  • Order child support
  • Instruct for spousal support or any other terms the other parent must comply with
  • Order a parenting class

A Variety Of Factors May Prolong The Duration Of A Child Custody Case

When it comes to child custody cases, no two situations are alike. The custody case duration can vary significantly depending on several factors, such as:

  • The level of cooperation between the parents
  • The complexity of the issues involving a full custody
  • Whether or not the trial court can resolve disputes out of court

Filing A Claim For Parental Rights And Visitation Time

If you are a parent seeking to establish, modify or enforce parental rights and visitation time with your child, you must understand the child custody process of filing a claim.

As a general rule, the court system protects the child’s best interests, which means that you must demonstrate why it is in their interests for you to have parental rights and parenting time in your child’s life.

When Determining Child Custody Arrangements, Courts Often Consider The Child’s Preference

The child’s desires are important because the trial court wishes to ensure that the child’s best interest features in custody decisions. Additionally, courts may consider the following:

  • The child’s relationship with each parent
  • The emotional bond between parents and children
  • The child’s age
  • Any special needs of the child
  • Any history of violence, abuse, or neglect

Trial courts also consider many factors, such as:

  • Each parent’s physical and mental health
  • The ability of each co-parent to provide a safe home environment
  • Whether parents live near one another 

Consider Mediation As An Option For Resolving A Custody Case

A mediation process is an attractive option for parents considering a custody battle. Mediation allows both parents to communicate in a respectful and open environment to work out a custody agreement that benefits all parties.

Unlike a courtroom battle, mediation does not require expensive attorneys and can provide parents an alternative to a drawn-out and costly court custody battle.

Be Ready For Your Child Custody Hearing

It is essential to be ready for your child custody hearing. Gather all relevant documents and information regarding the case beforehand, such as:

  • Medical records
  • School records
  • Financial information
  • Reviewing the applicable state laws about child support and custody
  • Examining any relevant documents from previous hearings or settlements can also be helpful.

In Certain Custody Battles, Emergency Orders May Be Available

Emergency orders may sometimes be available for individuals needing immediate protection. This type of legal action is beneficial when:

  • There are concerns about the child’s safety
  • Or if the custodial parent is at risk of fleeing with the child

Emergency orders may involve:

  • Temporary custody
  • Restraining or other court orders

Appoint An Advocate For Your Child’s Best Interest – A Guardian Ad Litem In A Child Custody Case

When parents can no longer agree on their children’s upbringing decisions, a trial court may appoint a guardian ad litem (GAL) in a child custody battle. The guardian ad litem advocates for the minor’s well-being and can represent the child in court proceedings.

A GAL may investigate a children’s home environment, speak to relevant partners in the case, such as parents, teachers, or counselors, and make recommendations to the court.

Judges Presiding Over Custody Battles

The family judges can involve the other parent in the trial, but this is not always necessary. If both parties agree to a parent-child agreement, the judge may consider it valid and rule accordingly.

If complicated issues need further discussion, the judges can order several trial dates so all involved parties can voice their opinions. Sometimes, a judge may even refer the case to family mediation to facilitate an agreement. Ultimately, the judge will decide based on the minor’s welfare.

Child Custody Cases

A judge will consider several factors when determining shared custody arrangements. The court will also examine trial dates and ensure they suit all parties. If the judge finds the agreement inappropriate, they may cancel it.

The other parent may file a paternity action with the court to establish paternity in custody cases. When the opposing party in a custody case is the other parent, it can be especially difficult for all parties involved.

A process server can ensure that the other party in a custody case knows any essential court documents or decisions. The court’s final orders are binding and enforceable, and failure to comply can result in severe penalties.

The Mediator’s Office

The custody case might end sooner if the parents agree to the mediator’s decision. The mediator enables both parties to agree to the custody arrangement. One room of the office is dedicated to children, allowing both parties to communicate without a third party.

Secure An Unbundled Attorney To Settle Your Child Custody Issues And Gain Peace Of Mind!

You’re going through a tough child custody case after divorce and need legal help.

Custody battles can be challenging and emotional—an uUnbundled family law attorney who understands the legal process and can guide you.

An Unbundled family attorney can provide more cost-effective legal services, saving you money in the long run. Their fees typically range from $500 to $1500.

Unbundled legal services may not be an ideal option for every case. However, they can be immensely beneficial when requiring minimal lawyer involvement.

An Unbundled lawyer will work with you one-on-one to get the best settlement for you and your children. Contact an unbundled lawyer today for an in-person consultation to explore your legal options.

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