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How Long Does a Child Custody Case Take in Santa Barbara, California?

Feb 6, 2023 | Child Custody

Whether you initiate the process or are challenged by your spouse or partner, child custody cases can be complicated while taking an emotional and mental toll on you. You may feel stress or worry as you think about how long the case may take to resolve. Unfortunately, there is no set length for these cases, as each one involves a different set of facts and considerations.

Understanding the factors that can prolong these cases can help you not only prepare for the process but also have important discussions with your child about the situation. After all, the resolution not only impacts you, it also impacts them.

To Go to Trial or Not to Go to Trial

One factor that can prolong your child custody case is whether it is litigated in a courtroom. The sooner a case can avoid the courtroom, the faster it will be resolved. In addition, you and your ex will save money by avoiding lengthy litigation, along with any lost work time.

When parents are unable to resolve the case on their own, a judge may attempt to assign a mediator to work with them. Instead of a courtroom, discussions will take place in the mediator’s office. Their role is to keep the conversation moving forward rather than allowing parents to become stuck on one or more issues.

Through mediation, the parents will work on creating a parenting plan that will include details such as:

  • Schedules for both parents
  • Expected co-parenting communication
  • How the child will spend holidays and vacations
  • How expenses will be shared

These details, among others, should all be settled with one goal in mind: what is best for the child. Children are often overlooked in custody battles, but they are just as affected as the parents in many of these situations. After all, they are the ones who are physically moving from house to house. That increases the importance of these mediated discussions.

If the mediator and parents can create an agreeable plan, it will be presented to the judge, who will then finalize the decision. The time it takes for this process to occur depends on how quickly you and the other parent can reach an agreement. However, the process is still generally shorter than a trial.

If, however, you and the other parent are unable to reach an agreement, the case will go to trial. This process will be longer and more costly. The schedule of the county court and the timeline for your case to be heard will determine the length of the proceedings.

The Judge Assigned

The judge assigned to your case can also affect the amount of time it will need. Some judges are more diligent and spend more time reviewing details than others. The longer it takes them to do so, the longer your case will last.

Other judges may require several appearances from the parents before they render a decision. They may do this to get a better idea of the parents’ personalities. Not only will this prolong the case, but it will also mean more time away from work.

No matter how long a judge takes to make a decision, they ultimately have the same goal as the parents: the child’s best interests. Some judges will simply take longer to consider this than others. Unfortunately, you have no control over who will be assigned to your case.

The Attorneys Involved

Each parent will have an attorney to represent them. While they are there to serve in the best interest of their respective clients, the amount of time they wish to prepare, negotiate, or work on your case could prolong its resolution. Another determining factor is your attorney’s experience. Newer attorneys will take longer to complete cases. However, experienced attorneys have learned more efficient ways to represent their clients while still achieving the desired outcome.

The Case Details

If both parties allow for the proper discovery of evidence and cooperate with the attorneys and judge involved, the case can move quickly. However, the case might be prolonged by complicating factors, such as an uncooperative parent, a history of substance abuse, or possible domestic violence.


Q: How Long Do Child Custody Cases Take in California?

A: The length of time a child custody case could take is dependent on several factors. There are no set lengths for cases, and each one is different. Factors that can lengthen these cases include:

  • The amicability of the parents
  • The mediation process
  • Whether the case goes to trial
  • The attorneys involved
  • Any extenuating circumstances that need to be discussed

Q: How Long Does It Take to Get Custody of a Child?

A: The court system is experiencing increasing backlogs and conflicts with scheduling. This makes it difficult for cases to be resolved quickly. Depending on how many times your case is rescheduled or delayed, it might last 18 months or more. Your attorney will review your case and discuss with you what to expect as you move forward.

Q: How Hard Is It to Get Full Custody in California?

A: The difficulty of gaining child custody is mostly dependent on the motivation of the parent. A parent who wishes to gain custody needs to make a compelling and persuasive argument. This is more than just discrediting the other parent. You must be able to show the court that you can provide for the child in their best interests. Ultimately, that is their ultimate concern.

Q: What Do Judges Look for in Child Custody Cases in California?

A: Common factors in determining child custody include:

  • The child’s health
  • The child’s emotional connections with each parent
  • The parents’ abilities to care for the child
  • Any criminal history either parent may have
  • Any history of domestic violence or abuse
  • How involved the child is in their current community, school, and home

Santa Barbara Family Law Attorney

If you are facing a child custody case, you should have representation on your side that will fight for your best interests and those of your child. You may start out on a quick path to resolving custody, but that could change as the process goes on. With the help of an experienced and knowledgeable family law attorney, no matter how long your case takes, you can be confident that they have your best interests in mind. At Drury Pullen Law, we know the process can be long and complex, but we can be by your side every step of the way. Contact our offices today and let us start working with you on your case.

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