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Divorce Timeframes

Craig, Dr.Gaughan and Jennifer clarify expectations for the divorce timeframes.


CRAIG CHERNEY: Good afternoon, I’m Craig Cherney. I’m with Canterbury Law Group in North Scottsdale, Arizona.

DR. DANIEL GAUGHAN: And I’m DJ Gaughan. I’m a psychologist in private practice.

JENNIFER MOSHIER: I’m Jennifer Moshier. I’m the founder of Peaceful Family Law. We’re here today to talk about the timeframes for a collaborative divorce, probate, or civil litigation case. Craig, I know you’ve got experience in many of these cases; so do you, DJ.

DR. DANIEL GAUGHAN: Yes.

CRAIG CHERNEY: So absolutely, there’s two things you got to look at when you’re looking at a divorce case. Should I go to the conventional route through the courthouse; how long does that take to get through to get to final decree? Or should I do a more humane, collaborative approach where you still file in court but you resolve privately without a judge?
So in my experience, typically, the conventional courthouse divorce where there’s litigation, lawyers on both sides, you’re going to range between nine months and 24 months depending on the size of the marital estate. Obviously, the larger the marital estate, the longer the divorce and the higher the cost.
In contrast, collaborative law in my experience is actually quite contained in cost and time. Most cases can resolve in six months or less. I’ve seen cases resolve as early as 60 or 90 days. Doctor.

DR. DANIEL GAUGHAN: Well, I can make a comparison there. I recall one couple in my office who were working on a parenting plan. And with a little bit of cooperation and a little bit of assistance, parents can resolve their entire parenting plan – that is, the issues regarding the children – in a matter of about two to three hours.
And I worked with this couple in a traditional litigated case, and at the end I dictated the parenting plan and said, “Well, here it is. I’ll have my staff type it up and you can take it back to your attorneys and we’ll be done.” And he said, “You mean we don’t have to go to court?” I said, “Yeah.” And he said, “Could we have come in here and talked to you at the beginning of this process? It’s been two years. I’ve spent over $10,000, my wife has spent over $10,000 in fees up to now and we’ve been fighting for two years. You mean I could have come to you in three hours and taken care of this?” And I went, “Well, yeah, I guess so.”
And he was angry. He was really upset.

JENNIFER MOSHIER: Oh, wow.

DR. DANIEL GAUGHAN: I mean, he almost didn’t sign the papers he was so upset. But of course, he did and it worked out well.

JENNIFER MOSHIER: No, I’m just in awe hearing the $10,000 in two years. I know Craig and I have had cases that have gone on for quite some time, and the more time you spend in your case, the more money you can see typically rack up in attorneys’ fees. And one thing that collaborative law does seek to do is eliminate a lot of the emotion that a court will never address and try to address that in a private, confidential, and very safe environment where you’re guided in your communication so that those difficult issues get worked through in record time, don’t you find?

CRAIG CHERNEY: There’s no question a collaborative divorce case is going to most likely resolve in half the time of a conventional contested litigation in a court of law.

JENNIFER MOSHIER: Gosh, yes.

CRAIG CHERNEY: Another important piece of this puzzle is you are making decisions together as a family in a collaborative divorce.

JENNIFER MOSHIER: Absolutely.

CRAIG CHERNEY: You’re both at the table negotiating with the cards face up. Now, contrast that with conventional divorce. Closed doors, discovery, depositions, adversarial litigation, and most importantly, a stranger in a black robe making really big decisions about your future.

JENNIFER MOSHIER: Absolutely, that is so true. I know you’ve probably seen that too. I’ve found that when people get into the collaborative process, they’re shocked at how fast things can begin to roll downhill. You’re looking at not only the person that you are today and people your family are today, you’re also serving those people and yourself, who you’ll be in 5, 10, 15 years.
So if you think about the long-term security-in-the-future choices you want to have made when you look back on a moment you stand in today, I think that’s where collaborative law really holds its value.

DR. DANIEL GAUGHAN: Yes, and it’s really helpful for the children too, and you get practice of being co-parents post-divorce. And yeah, it’s a big thing.

JENNIFER MOSHIER: Wow, that’s valuable. Well, thank you so much. We appreciate you watching and we’ll give you another video soon.

CRAIG CHERNEY: Thank you.