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How long does the average child custody case last in California?

Los Angeles, CA |

I recently opened a child custody case asking for sole custody of my 4 month old daughter. I wouldn't mind sharing joint custody with my ex husband if it wasn't for the fact that he smokes pot throughout the day and is against vaccines. My concern is that he just wouldn't be able to take care of my baby if he's high most of the day and also is putting her at risk of contracting diseases that can be prevented with vaccines. I do however encourage him to be involved in my child's life but I ultimately want to be responsible for any decisions made. We were unable to reach an agreement through mediation and we will have to face court in the upcoming months. I know it can vary from case to case but do you know how long a case like this one can last? How many appearances?

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Attorney answers 3


A. Are you willing to be reasonable? B. Is he willing to be reasonable? C. Are either of you willing to spend all of your money simply fighting with the other?

You and your ex, if you want, can either spend the next 17 years and eight months, and lots of time, trouble and money, going to court and having a judge resolve parenting disputes, or you can figure out a different way to resolve these disagreements. Assume that you will not be able to change your ex-husband's behavior in major ways, unless he wants to change it; so this means that you'll have to work with, or work around him. Get a copy of "Joint Custody With a Jerk". If you can't afford to buy it, check it out of the library.


The average child custody case in California lasts until the minor is an adult, or 18 years of age. That is speculative whether you and father can or cannot agree on custody/visitation. The best interest of your child be the court's primary concern.

I hope you and father can come to an agreement or terms that would be acceptable to both of you. Although very likely, a plan that you two agree on today will likely change during the course of the minor's life, as your daughter gets older.

Contact our firm should you have any questions.

Should this response be helpful, please mark "I Agree" to support our firm.

David Lavi, Attorney
Beverly Hills Los Angeles Long Beach Van Nuys


The court has jurisdiction over the child until he/she is 18 or 19 if still in high school. How long the child custody case that you opened lasts depends on how willing the two of you are to work together to reach an agreement. You can expend a lot of time, money and energy fighting over issues or you can work together to determine a plan that works for you and co-parent.

Maryam Atighechi is a family law, real estate and civil litigation attorney in Sherman Oaks, CA. 818-647-1152. Please be advised that although Ms. Atighechi is an attorney, the comments posted does not constitute legal advice. You should not rely on any advice or suggestions written and seek outside, independent counsel. An attorney-client relationship has not formed by reading the post.

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