How Complex is Your Case?

Sep 21

How Complex is Your Case?


The two main factors that predict the cost and length of your case are the complexity & level of conflict.

Complexity in a family law case means how complicated are the issues that are going to be decided? Here are some generalities about complexity:

  • Divorces are more complicated because they involve the division of marital property.
  • Divorces with a lot of money and things like businesses are more complicated than other divorces.
  • Original child custody cases (the first time a child custody case is filed, whether in a divorce or otherwise) are more complicated than modifications.
  • Child custody cases with two functioning parents are less complicated than ones where one or both parents are impaired.

You could look at case complexity on a scale. Here is how we would add those up:

  • For divorces, add 3 points.
  • For divorces with over $1M in assets or a business, add another 3 points.
  • For an original child custody case (including a divorce), add 1 point. For a modification, subtract 1 point.
  • If one parent is alleged to be impaired, add 3 points. If both parents respect each other and are acknowledged to be good parents, subtract 2 points. “Impaired” means they are alleged to have a substance abuse, mental health or other serious problem that interferes with their ability to parent normally.
  • Special circumstances should add another 2 points. Examples of these include: hiding money; special needs children;

Scoring these totals I would say this:

0-2 points: Very Low Complexity; You agree on a most issues; must several minor ones remain.

3-5 points: Moderate Complexity; You and the other party agree on some issues; but have important disagreements on at least one important issue.

6-8 points: High Complexity; You don’t agree on much, and certainly not on at least one important issue. There are hard feelings.

9+ points: Very High Complexity; There are important issues that you very much disagree with the other parent about, combined with hard feelings on both sides.


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