It is a great concern for anyone going through divorce to know how long the child custody case is likely to take. Divorce and custody cases can be time-consuming depending on the nature of the case. It also puts major strains on time and financial resources, especially when you need to hire a professional lawyer to handle your case.

This will require a plan and strategy that will last as long as the case lasts and that is the reason most people involved in the case would ask this question; how long can the child custody cases last?

There is no simple answer to this. Some cases are more complex and complicated than others. Still, there are no provisions that give exact timelines or deadlines for how long a child custody case will last. It will always depend on the nature of the parents relationship, the level of cooperation and how prepared the parties are prior to going to court.  

It would be prudent to shed off emotions and talk over issues with the other parent, have some compromises, and look at the child’s interests, the environment where they will grow, and other things that may lengthen your case in the court if you want to spend the least time and money possible.

The more the case becomes complicated for the court, the longer it may take. 

Therefore, if you have chosen to settle your child custody case in family court, then you should brace yourself for the long haul. It can take a longer time than you had imagined.

Initial hearings, motions, appearances, and such can start to rack up in the first 6-8 months before anything substantial is even discussed in front of the judge.

What Are the Factors that Can Affect the Length of Child Custody Case?

Most states in the U.S and even other countries do not have set timelines for cases. The courts are the ones to determine, depending on some factors that include:

Backlog of Similar Cases in The Court 

If there are so many cases of the same nature in the court, then you may spend so much time than if there were only a few cases. The backlog of cases always causes delays in the courts.

Therefore, if your case is tried in a court with so many other cases, whether of similar nature or not, the times between the trials may be spaced for long and that would make your child custody case take a longer time. 

waiting for justice to never come
the best interest of the child is not in the courtroom

Location of The Case 

The location of your child custody case also matters. Some states or counties have different custody laws that can impact the length of your case.

States like Florida, Minnesota, West Virginia, and Colorado among others have 50/50 custody laws and this would also impact highly on the time the custody case will take. 

In Alabama, joint custody is one of the options but the best interests of the child are considered in most States, Like in California, the courts will work to detail the best parenting plan in reference to the child’s best interests and should be agreed upon by both parents. 

That means, each state has its custody laws and this will impact the time it will take for a decision to be made by the court. 

Number of Appearances and Hearings Involved 

The number of disputed issues within your case is also what determines the length. If both parents agree to compromise and sacrifice for the sake of the children, then the court may determine the case in just a few court dates.

If there are so many differences between the parents, and each wants to have their way and be the custodian of the child or children, then it will definitely take more court appearances and hearings. This will highly impact the time that the case will take. 

The Choice of Your Lawyers 

The choice of lawyers that you choose for your case will also determine the time that your child custody case will take. If a lawyer is so convincing, he or she may convince or even give insights to the court over the case at hand as well have good influence over the opposing counsel to come to resolution.

A lawyer with good experience in family matters would also work to have both parents understand the nature of the case and to compromise on their feelings for the sake of the child’s interests. 

If the lawyer is too concerned about his or her interests in the process, he or she may want to have a lengthy court case.

In most cases, it is not good to argue your own case in court, if you work with a good lawyer who is well-versed with child custody issues you will have a much better chance to wrap it up quickly. But to be clear, “quickly” can be a year or more in real time.

Nature of Your Case 

Some cases do end sooner than others based on their nature. If your case involves an abusive parent, signs of drug use, mental issues, or other clearly harmful actions then the judge will look at the child’s best interests.

Children need to be protected, nurtured, and given a conducive environment to grow. In this case, if one of the parents is abusive and the court is provided proof of that, then the case might take a shorter time to be determined. 

Refusal to Cooperate and Compromise 

usually no one wins in family court

You as parents should cooperate and agree on some things to do with your case in the best interest of your children.

Even though the case could be emotional, you need to quell your emotions and focus on the interests of the child as parents. When that proves difficult, it may delay your case, or lead to more court hearings that can take a lot more time. 

Parents can agree to cooperate in many ways. That includes joint parenting in terms of providing the children with all their needs, regardless of who receives custody. 


In a nutshell, there is no specific timeframe or deadline in terms of the duration that a child custody case can take. It can take a few weeks, months, or even years.

It all depends on the nature of the parents and how much they are willing to compromise or concede in the best interest of the children.

If parents instead, focus on themselves and their wants and desires (their EGOs) then the lawyers and judges will certainly help drag the case on for years and years to come.

They get paid every day to go to court with or without you, it makes no difference to them.

Every little debate, slite, squabble, remark, insult, and concern will cost thousands of dollars to dispute in family court. 

The absolute best thing you can do is address these things before the court comes into the discussion. The last place you want to spend time with your children and your Ex is in the courtroom.