Every client I have worked with has asked me these two questions. Unfortunately, the answer is a resounding “I don’t know.” Here are the important components: drafting a settlement agreement takes several hours, and drafting the associated documents, such as a Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage, takes even less time.
If the parties agree on all issues, then a case could theoretically be opened and closed in a matter of weeks. In many cases, however, parties have not reached agreement on some or even all of their issues, and the majority of the time is spent resolving disagreements between the parties. Accordingly, the length of any case is directly proportional to the extent of the parties’ disagreements. As such, predicting the length of the case at the outset is incredibly difficult.
As for the second question, cost is a function of time for attorneys who bill by the hour. Just as it is difficult to predict the length of a case, so too is it difficult to predict the total cost. It’s important for all clients to monitor their bills and keep track of their total costs; this will allow them to consider different tactics if the current ones become cost-prohibitive.
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