One of the questions I encounter most regarding divorce is “How long is this going to take”? The timeframe in a divorce is affected by many factors. The two principal issues that affect timeframe are:
Areas of disagreement between the parties in a divorce must ultimately be resolved before a divorce is completed. The steps to resolving issues between the parties usually are:
The parties set aside emotional road blocks, find common ground and resolve the issues
The fastest and least expensive option is for the parties to resolve areas of disagreement themselves. Often times people know what they want, and just need someone familiar with the legal terminology and the law to put into a binding legal document that will protect and enforce their wishes. As an experienced divorce and family law attorney I can share ideas and strategies that may provide additional options for my clients to help them move through these challenges. The parties retain the most control over their future and peace of mind when they work together to develop solutions.
When we encounter an issue that can’t be resolved the next option is usually mediation. As an experienced mediator I can tell you that mediation is much faster and less expensive than resolving issues in litigation, and the atmosphere is much lighter. Mediation is somewhat structured, but less formal than open court, can avoid your dirty laundry becoming public record. Issues that are discussed can remain private between the parties and off the record. Mediation allows each party to maintain an influence in how problems will be resolved, and to be part of the solution that will set the foundation for the rest of their life. You can be the captain of your own ship.
If an issue cannot be resolved in any other forum, it must be resolved before the court. This option is the most time consuming and expensive for the parties involved. More importantly, in this venue you have no control over the decision. And little control of what becomes public record. The judge, a total stranger, will make their own decision as to how the disagreement will be resolved, and enforce a solution upon the parties. In most cases this is not a “one party wins, and one party loses”. The court is searching for a fair and just solution, and in the words of one judge “if both parties feel like they were punched in the stomach I probably got the solution right”.
Budget cuts have had a severe impact on our local courts. I admire the professionals who are employed in our courthouse. They are carrying a much heavier load than ever before and are working above and beyond expectations to help move cases through. The simple fact is there are fewer resources and personnel available. The cuts have been deep and there are fewer resources at the court to hear and resolve the case load in place. This has drastically increased the amount of time it takes to move through the pipeline. In addition, recent legislation known as “Elkins” gives litigants the option to have an evidentiary hearing in certain types of cases that requires the judge to spend more time hearing oral testimony at evidentiary hearings, and this can add hours to each proceeding (hours that used to be covered by briefs provided to the court by attorneys). This has added more time and expense to each proceeding and impacts every case before the court.
If you are in the process of seeking a divorce it is important to work with an experienced and knowledgeable divorce and family law attorney. My experience as a mediator and a family law lawyer can make a significant difference in the timeframe and cost associated with your case. I invite you to contact my office for a free initial consultation, or call me at 760-542-6072. I will work to answer all your questions, understand your goals, and develop strategies that will help us to accomplish those goals expediently and efficiently.
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