Getting divorced is never easy, especially when there are children involved. Trying to figure out custody arrangements can be extremely stressful for all parties. 


Primary residence, sole or joint custody, days, places, times, holidays, sporting events, school functions and so on. It’s enough to make your head spin. 

So how long does a custody case usually take? Unfortunately, when it comes down to it, there just is no real answer.


I know that’s not what you wanted to hear.


But let’s take a further look at what goes on.

What Goes Into a Custody Case?

Under California law, either parent can have custody or share custody of the children. A parenting plan is agreed upon by both parents. 


The parenting plan will include things such as:


  • Parenting Schedule
  • Holidays and Special Dates
  • Travel and Vacations
  • Extending Family and Friends
  • Schedule Change Protocol
  • Making of Important Decision
  • Expenses
  • Communication With Kids When Away
  • Co-Parent Communication


This is then submitted to a judge who makes the final decision.


If the parents simply cannot agree, the judge will make a final decision AFTER the parents have met with a mediator from Family Court Services. 


Seems pretty simple, right?


It should be. EXCEPT, there are times when it just isn’t.

What Would Make A Custody Case Drag Out?

There are several factors that can come into play when a custody case is drawn out. One parent or both parents may accuse the other party of child neglect, alcohol abuse, drug use, endangerment, health and safety issues, etc. 


When this happens, it can open up a can of worms. The custody case now becomes a bit more complicated and will take a lot longer


As accusations are brought to the Court’s attention, they must be investigated, proof must be provided, ruled out and/or confirmed


To do this, witnesses, experts and sometimes even the child will have to give testimony to the issues at hand. 


In California, if a child is 14 years of age, the Court can hear testimony from the child and their position of custody arrangement. 


Has this happened? Yes. 


Is it common? Sometimes more than not.


For instance, the high-profile custody battle case between Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt has been going on for SIX years based on accusations of children’s health, safety, and welfare brought before the Court.


In that time, their eldest child has already aged out of the court system. Though this is clearly not the norm, it does happen.  It’s upsetting to hear and it can emotionally affect everyone involved. 


No custody case should ever be in a court system that long. It’s unacceptable and unhealthy for all involved.


Everyone involved should want what’s best for the child. That should be the number one priority. But sometimes things get lost in hindsight. 


If you feel that things may take a complex turn, know your rights. Contact a family law attorney who can help guide you along the way.


Need help? I’m here to assist you!