One of the most common questions clients have for their attorneys is how to speed up their divorce or other court case. This is very understandable since a family law case is usually unpleasant, expensive and slow-moving. It would be nice if there were some quick, easy answers to help speed things up. Unfortunately, there's no easy solution. However, even though there are no guarantees, but here are some things you can do to help the process.
- Be agreeable. That includes trying to be agreeable on issues, plans and solutions. Remember that you can't make the other party be reasonable, and let's not even think about “fair” (fair is in the eyes of the beholder). You should do your best to adapt and compromise. If you can't agree to what the other insists on, you should probably just plan to wait for the court date in the future.
- Be available. Make this case your priority and work your schedule around the court. It may not be convenient, but you may have to be inconvenienced if you want to speed up the process. Part of this is getting your preparation done in a timely manner so that you and your attorney can be ready for discussions or court. If you want your attorney to do all the work, it will cost you more time and money.
- Avoid fights with the other party. In a family law case, each side usually knows what will set off the other party. Honestly, you may feel some spark of vindication or something else if you take advantage of an opportunity to say something or to respond to provocation from the other side, but those exchanges usually escalate and the result is anger which makes it hard to settle the case. No settlement = a slower process. You can choose between fleeting gratification or a faster way to end the case.
- Figure out what motivates the other side and try to accommodate it. If you can come up with an agreement that meets the needs of the other side, you have a much better chance to achieve a quick resolution. Both sides always evaluation a proposal in terms of “what's in it for me?”. If there's nothing, there's no agreement and you end up waiting for court.
These suggestions may seem very simple, but it's amazing how often people do just the opposite. If the suggestions don't work, there's still one more thing to do.
- As a last resort, set court dates. As much as I hate to recommend it, sometimes you have to have a deadline to force the other side to act. You can schedule various steps along the way to increase activity: temporary orders hearings, modification hearing, enforcement hearing, etc. Sometimes, you can get agreement finalized just by getting everyone to the courthouse on some small aspect of the case.
Caveat: You should avoid letting the other side know that you are anxious or desperate to get the case concluded. If they find out, it gives them a huge edge in negotiating because they can hold out for more and you will need to make concessions to get an early agreement. Be sure to keep a poker face as you try to speed things up!