When parties reach a negotiation impasse, I often hear one party say “Let’s just go to trial and have the Judge decide that.” Unfortunately the parties don’t often realize just how long they will be waiting.
After a trial the judge has up to 90 days (3 months!) to make the decision. But first you need to get to the trial. In a divorce case, it may be several months (or over a year) before you even get there. First you need to work through the court process – attempt mediation, complete evaluations, have a pre-trial, etc. Then you need to have your trial.
Each county handles their trial calendars differently. In the larger metro counties, you may be assigned a certain trial date that is specifically for your case so you know when your trial will be. But most other counties operate with a mass trial calendar. The judge has a certain week or two every couple months for trials. There is a list of trials for that certain week and you are assigned a number. Everyone is supposed to guess how long their trial will last, and try to resolve all issues before trial. The week of trial, the trials will go in order and the judge will hear all that he/she can for the week. Most of the time there are more cases assigned then the judge could possibly get through (because most cases do settle before trial). However, if you are somewhere near the middle or end of the list and there are cases ahead of you that have not settled (or even if you are number 2 or 3, but the cases ahead of you require multi-day trials) you will likely get bumped to the next available trial slot. It has not been unheard of for a case to get bumped a few times, you could be waiting for trial for several months.