how long do custody battles take

Do you feel like your custody battle is never-ending? Are you frustrated by the legal fees and paperwork piling up? You are not alone. Navigating a divorce can be overwhelming, complicated, and lengthy, but understanding how long these proceedings can take may help clarify this difficult process.

This blog post will introduce the factors that influence how long a typical child custody case takes and how much it costs so that parents going through a separation or divorce can make better-informed decisions when approaching their situations.

Are Custody Battles Stressful?

The answer is yes. Custody battles can be incredibly stressful for all involved, including the two parents going through a divorce and any children the decision may impact. It’s important to remember that child custody cases may take considerable time and money, so it is best to prepare yourself and your finances for the long haul.

How Long Does Custody Take?

It’s hard to answer how long a custody dispute can take since many factors play into the process. Some cases wrap up in weeks, while others drag out for years – and that variance makes it impossible to average those two outcomes accurately.

ExParte/Emergency Custody

Ex Parte/Emergency Custody may be resolved within 30 days. Without an emergency, custody may not take long or drag on for years. 

Your lawyer presents Ex Parte/Emergency Custody to the Judge who grants or denies immediate temporary custody. Then it is set for a hearing within 30 days. 

In some parishes, the first hearing is with a Commissioner; in other parishes, the first hearing is with the Judge. If the first hearing is with a Commissioner, the party dissatisfied with the result can then ask for a rehearing by the Judge which may lengthen the process to 45 days. If one party is dissatisfied with the Judge’s decision, it can be appealed to the Court of Appeal, which will lengthen the process to a minimum of 3 months. There is a filing fee and service fee charged by the Clerk of Court and Sheriff at each step. 

Non-emergency Custody

Non-emergency Custody can be filed by your lawyer as a Motion or Petition, depending on whether it’s the first time this has gone to Court. Then it is set for hearing, first with a Hearing Officer in some parishes or with the Judge in others. Again, if the first hearing is with a Hearing Officer, this is only temporary if either party asks for a rehearing by the Judge or permanent. This timeline may be the same length as emergency custody but could take up to 6 months longer. It may take longer if: either party asks for a Custody Evaluation or drug testing or if the Court anticipates the trial will take more than 2 hours, it will be set for a Special Setting and take as much as 6 months. Again, the Clerk of Court and Sheriff charge a filing fee and service fee at each step. 

What Happens at First Custody Hearing?

Before testifying, parents and their witnesses will swear an oath of truthfulness during the first hearing. Lawyers make statements to the court, talk to the judge, question witnesses (including both parents), and present evidence on behalf of their clients. Parents who don’t have lawyers must do all this on their own. The Judge listens to arguments, considers documents or evidence presented, and decides on temporary custody. This is not final and may be changed in subsequent hearings or negotiations.

What to Expect from Child Custody Hearings

The Court may order a Substance Abuse Evaluation, Custody Evaluation, paternity testing, and drug testing. These are additional tools the Judge uses to determine the child’s best interests, and they can add to the cost of the process. Your attorney may also need additional services like a Private Detective or an Expert Witness to dispute the other side’s experts or the Court ordered evaluation. Private Detectives and Expert Witnesses will also charge for their time, so it’s important to remember when preparing your budget for a custody battle.

Finally, ensure you have an experienced attorney in family law by your side throughout the process to help guide you through the legal proceedings and provide you with the best advice for your case.

The Takeaway

Custody battles can be time-consuming and expensive, but they are necessary to ensure the children’s best interests are considered. Depending on the specifics of your case, it can take as little as 30 days or as long as several years to resolve a custody dispute, and it can cost anywhere from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands.

It’s best to prepare yourself and your finances for the long haul and have an experienced attorney guide you. A strong legal team can protect your and your children’s rights and get the best outcome.

Ellen Cronin Helps You With Your Child Custody Battles

For more than 30 years, Ellen Cronin Badeaux, LLC has been providing expert legal advice and representation to clients throughout ten parishes in Louisiana. We understand the complexities of custody battles and strive to make sure our clients’ rights are protected every step of the way.

If you are embroiled in a custody dispute, contact us today at (985) 892-1955 or email us at for a consultation about your case. We will provide you with comprehensive guidance and help you get the best possible outcome for your situation. Let our extensive knowledge of Custody Law work for you!