For some litigation works, but many find litigation to be a frustrating process. Litigation can be a time consuming, expensive, emotionally draining process that is hard on any children of the family. Some cases settle relatively quickly after one, two or a few court appearances. Others find though, after being embroiled in a divorce for months, sometimes literally years (depending on the complexity and the location of the court), without a definitive end date in sight, that they are weary from the court process. As a Long Island Divorce Lawyer, mediator and collaborative law attorney, I can definitively say that it will take longer from the start of a divorce case to the end of a trial than a mediation or collaborative law case.
Why might it take so long? Due to the volume of divorces filed in areas like Nassau County, Long Island and Queens, New York City, many cases can not be settled right away and need the courts to either decide the cases or help them settle. The amount of judges and judicial hearing officers that can deal with the cases is simply not enough to be able to resolve the cases in the amount of time that the parties would like. A lot of people going through a divorce are under the misimpression that the first time they go to court they will stand at the microphone in front of the judge and have their turn to tell the story. The belief is that then the judge will rule upon their case and the divorce will be over. I think we have television shows like the People’s Court, Divorce Court, and Judge Judy to thank for this misperception.
Most of the time, the first time people go to court in a New York divorce it is for a preliminary conference. At a preliminary conference a schedule for the case is made including when discovery demands need to be served and responded to, when examinations before trial should take place (depositions), and when a case should be ready for trial among other things. The ready for trial date is usually six months to a year after the preliminary conference. Routinely, however, the dates set forth in the schedule in retrospect were hopeful dates. In most cases, every step of the way takes longer than was anticipated in the schedule. Even if the lawyers and parties met the initial deadlines set forth in the case, the court’s calendar needs to be able to accommodate a trial. Trials can take many days that might not be consecutive. At times a trial begins and then is continued at a later date weeks or months later. Accordingly, it might take months to complete the trial and get a decision out of the court. Also, the decision, might not be what either side wants. A common example of this is with a parenting time schedule. The court usually will make a “cookie cutter” type parenting time schedule, such as every other weekend to the non-custodial parent that may or may not fit either side’s schedule. Continue reading