It is inevitable that during an initial consultation, I will be asked everyone’s two favorite questions: how long will this take and how much will it cost?
And the answer- time and time again- is it depends. This is an answer that frustrates most people, and it feels like a very lawyerly answer. But it is the truth. The cost and timeline quite literally depend on many moving parts.
In many industries, you know how much you are paying for a product before you buy it. In the world of family law, you are often navigating a minefield, making it near impossible to predict anything.
Both answers- how long the process will take- and how long the process will cost depend on a lot of factors. The answers also depend on the mix of personalities involved in a case. It’s actually a simple math equation: time is money. The more reasonable, focused, prepared, and willing to negotiate the parties are, the less time the lawyers have to spend on the case, meaning the quicker the process will go, and the less money will be spent in fees. Adversely, the more unreasonable someone is leads to more time and money spent on gathering documents, negotiating terms, and a longer process overall. More time, more money.
Perhaps the most unsettling part of that equation is that each individual’s reasonableness plays a part. That means both parties- and both lawyers. If both parties come to the table with the common goal of an amicable and expedited resolution; that can happen. However, any one party can control the speed of a process at any time- the failure to be forthcoming or reasonable can make the process take longer and therefore cost more. If we have to repeatedly seek court enforcement or involvement to compel one party to comply with the process, that will cost more and take longer.
Of course, there are many other variables, such as whether the parties have assets or businesses that need to be valued, whether discovery needs to be completed to determine the marital estate, whether the parties agree regarding custody and parenting time, etc. Some of those disagreements are not a result of unreasonableness or willful delay, but rather just a product of unwinding family dynamics.
If you would like to learn more specifics about your situation or what to expect for your case, please reach out to us at ZRE Law for a consultation.