One of the most frequently asked questions people have about going through a divorce is “how long will it take?” The answer is, it depends. Certainly, no one wants to go through a divorce that’s going to drag on for years, and family law attorneys want divorces to move along smoothly and quickly as well. However, there are several things parties can do to help their matter keep moving forward.
- Let go of the “principle” and be willing to compromise. Sometimes, parties become so fixated on “winning” or their spouse “losing” that they can no longer see the forest for the trees. For example, one party decides they are bent on keeping the old family couch just so that their spouse can’t have it (even though it may have no significance to them at all). This is usually accompanied by attitudes along the lines of “it’s not the actual [insert item here] I care about, it’s the principle of the matter”. These types of thoughts and feelings are a surefire way to slow a case down. However, generally, there is room to compromise in every family law case; once a party sets aside their negative feelings and is willing to work towards a compromise, it really helps move the matter along.
- Try meeting face-to-face. Having a meeting with the other side, their attorney, and your attorney can often move things along. Typically known as a four-way meeting or conference, these meetings used to take place in person, often at one attorney’s office. Though a little more difficult given the current pandemic, a four-way meeting can still take place through video conferencing. A four-way meeting is often helpful because it allows the parties and attorneys to have discussions about the issues in real time, unlike when sending letters, emails, or documents back and forth, and then having to wait for a response. The parties and their attorneys can then go through a list of all the outstanding issues in their matter and work through different proposals and solutions. A good approach is to start out with smaller issues that can be easily resolved first, and then move on to more complex matters. That way, if the parties aren’t able to come to an agreement on a harder issue, they won’t feel defeated right at the outset of the meeting. Another way to ensure a four-way meeting is successful is to keep in mind that a four-way meeting is an opportunity to settle as much as possible and to go into the meeting prepared to compromise.3
- Be responsive. A party who doesn’t respond to their attorney will certainly delay a divorce. When your attorney asks for documents such as tax returns or financial statements, or requests feedback on a draft of a pleading, the sooner the attorney is able to move things forward. An attorney who has to ask their client for financial documents five times before the client actually provides them isn’t able to move the case forward as quickly as when clients respond promptly, and ahead of deadlines.
- Follow court orders. Court orders are just that – orders. They aren’t suggestions nor are they optional. Following court orders can help to ensure that the divorce keeps moving quickly. When orders aren’t followed, the other side is often forced to spend time enforcing the orders, often by filing a motion and everyone ends up attending a hearing, all of which could have been avoided by following orders in the first place. Further, when the other side has to file a motion and set a hearing to enforce orders, not only does it slow down the process, but it does not make the non-abiding party look favorable to the court.
- Put aside minor parenting differences. Parenting and custody and visitation schedules are, understandably, a sensitive issue. However, parties who do not want the other parent to have any time with the children, or who are determined to dictate how the other parent parents typically only results in the parties engaging in slow and lengthy litigation. Regarding children, the court typically steps in when there is a concern over a child’s health, safety, or welfare, the court. However, the court simply doesn’t have the time or resources to address disputes over parenting styles, such as what the child wears on a daily basis or what snacks they are allowed to have. While these issues may seem serious, unless there is a true concern about the child’s health, safety, or welfare, going to court over parenting style issues is often not worth the time or money. Instead, remaining open to compromise when approaching custody and visitation issues often results in faster resolution.
If you are going through or thinking about divorce and have concerns about moving your case forward in a timely manner, is important that you seek advice from knowledgeable attorneys. At Argyris Mah, LLP, our experienced and skilled attorneys will help guide you through the process and come up with a plan tailored to your individual situation and needs.
Please contact our office at 408-564-5674 or email@example.com to set up an initial free consultation.