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Time Frame for Family Law Cases

One of the most popular questions we receive from our clients is how long will their case take. There are a number of factors that can impact the time line for your case. One of the biggest factors is the cooperation, or lack thereof, of the other party. Resolving matters by agreement is almost always quicker than litigation. However, if an agreement is not possible, the court's schedule will dictate when your case can be heard. For custody and support matters in Bucks County, it is approx. six (6) weeks from date of filing to the date of your first court appearance. The first appearance is a conference to see if the matter can be resolved with the assistance of a court officer. If there is still no resolution after the conference it can be another six (6) weeks until you have a hearing before a Judge. With a custody case, there is the potential the parties will need to participate in a custody evaluation. The evaluation can take several months to complete. The evaluator then has six (6) weeks to draft their report for the court. You can motion for a custody hearing once the report is received and again, be prepared to wait at least six (6) weeks from date of filing to the actual hearing date.

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The time frame for a divorce depends on the grounds for divorce. For no-fault divorces, parties can mutually consent ninety (90) days after the complaint has been filed and served on the other party. This is a mandatory waiting period imposed by the Divorce Code. If there is not mutual consent, the parties must be separated for at least one (1) year prior to seeking to finalize the divorce. If there are marital property issues, they will not be addressed until one of the above grounds for divorce has been satisfied. A party would then need to apply for a hearing on division of marital assets. You can expect to wait at least six (6) weeks from date of filing to the actual hearing date. These general time frames are for Bucks County and for non-emergency cases. You can expect to wait longer for hearings in Montgomery and Philadelphia counties for non-emergency matters.

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