“How long will it take for my case to be finalized?” This is a question I often hear when I meet with clients. My response is always: “it depends.” As an attorney, I can only control portions of the process, which can cause frustrating – and expensive – delays. Here are three of the most common things that can cause a divorce drag on:
1. The Judicial System
Like most governmental entities, the judicial system is overtaxed, overburdened, understaffed and underfunded. Also, each judge typically has far more cases assigned than they can efficiently handle.
Moreover, the judges don’t necessarily rule from the bench, but instead take the issue “under advisement” meaning more wait time for a ruling, which can often take months.
Meanwhile, clients are frustrated because their case isn’t going anywhere, their lives are on hold and they continue to fight with their soon-to-be ex (which might still happen even after the decision is rendered). Tensions remain high and often even get worse during this time.
2. Financial Documents
In most jurisdictions, a certain amount of financial disclosure is required in any divorce. This usually includes income information, tax returns, bank statements and credit card statements. Another thing that can further delaying the proceedings are account transfers for which you or your spouse may have no record. Therefore, more discovery regarding requests for production or interrogatories will be required.
3. Uncooperative Parties or Opposing Counsel
If your lawyer says certain information is necessary, they will send opposing counsel a request for said information. If the other side doesn’t share the information for one reason or another, the inquiring lawyer will have to file a motion with the court. This motion with the intent for sharing establishes a hearing in front of the judge, which could potentially tack on months to the trial.
Divorce is traumatic enough, long delays can add to the already-elevated stress of the situation. Understanding there are certain components to the procedure which you and your attorney simply don’t have control over may help alleviate some anxiety. Take deep breaths, meditate, and have faith that what’s best will prevail in the end.