In Colorado, a Divorce, Family Law, or Child Custody case can take a long time (in some cases, over a year, depending on the county) or it can be resolved very quickly, depending on whether the parties can agree to a negotiated outcome. From a procedural standpoint, the way in which a family law case is resolved is very simple: having a final agreement on all issues that is signed by all parties in the case. If the spouses (or “parents” in a child custody case) agree to written agreement that is signed by the parties, the court can approve the agreement and the case can be closed. Such an outcome is usually far less costly than taking the case all the way to a contested hearing.
There are several reasons why a family law case becomes much more costly when it proceeds to a final contested hearing. It is not just the amount of time that is spent at the hearing. There is usually a large amount of preparation time that is spent in the weeks leading up to it. There are also many procedural actions and deadlines that practitioners are required to adhere to, including the filing of a lengthy Joint Trial Management Certificate, organization and preparation of the exhibit binders, a complete update of financial disclosures, as well as other tasks.
There is also a human cost to the time spent preparing for a contested hearing. It is impossible to predict exactly what a court will determine at the hearing, and what rulings and orders it will enter. The uncertainty of the upcoming hearing leads to a great deal of anxiety and stress for the parties leading up to the hearing date. Also, contested hearings can be contentious for the parties involved, which can have lasting effects on their relationship with one another.
Sometimes contested hearings in family law cases are unavoidable, which is usually the case if one party in the case is being unreasonable in the process. However, it is always important to ensure that all settlement efforts have been exhausted prior to taking a case to a final hearing. Otherwise, the parties will have missed an opportunity to resolve their case in a less costly way. If you have concerns about whether your case can be settled amicably outside of court, or if you have questions in general about your family law case, do not hesitate to contact us at your convenience.