The legal process has the reputation of being a long and slow process. In many cases, this reputation is well earned. Concluding a divorce or custody case can often take many months, or even more than a year. Getting on the Court’s calendar for a Motion Hearing reliably takes 4-8 weeks. Even after the Court has heard a Motion, the Court often has up to 90 days to make a decision. However, there are some kinds of relief which can be granted by a court more swiftly.
One form of quicker relief can come from an Emergency Motion. For Emergency Motions, courts will try to schedule the Hearing as soon as possible, and the normal time restraints for filing Motion paperwork are often waived. Often, parties can get a decision from a Judge on the Emergency Motion within days of the emergency situation arising. Obviously, in order to have an issue addressed at that emergency pace, there must be a true emergency. Typically, emergencies involve the safety of a child. Some common examples of emergencies include allegations of abuse; situations where one parent is fleeing the state with the child; or situations where a child will miss a significant amount of school if the Court does not intervene swiftly.
In the context of a divorce or custody litigation, it is possible to get a decision from the court on some interim issues through a Temporary Motion. Temporary Motions are faster than waiting for the entire case to be concluded, but they still take 4-8 weeks to schedule, and many judges will not let the parties bring a Temporary Motion unless there has been an Initial Case Management Conference first.
Of course, for some relatively minor issues, judges are sometimes willing to make decisions based upon a Telephone Conference with the parties. This is an extremely fast way to resolve issues, however, it is not typical for a judge to deal with anything other than very minor issues via telephone. Even then, judges usually only decide issues via telephone in the context of on-going litigation, not for a case that has concluded, or has just begun.