How Long Does Divorce Mediation Take?

When I first meet with couples seeking mediation for their divorce, I find that many have the same questions. One common question is how long divorce mediation will take to complete. It's a tough question to answer since there are many factors that contribute to the completion of divorce mediation. I'll share the factors that I consider to have an impact.

6 Factors that Determine How Long Divorce Mediation Takes

Most of the divorce mediations that I handle take two to four, two-hour mediation sessions to resolve all the issues that need to be resolved. This is after we meet together for a mediation orientation session. In the orientation, I discuss the mediation process and both parties sign the agreement to mediate. Additionally, by the time we start mediation I have had the opportunity to meet with each party individually to discuss their goals and concerns. Here are the six factors that I have noticed will determine how long divorce mediation takes.

How long you've each had the opportunity to process the idea of terminating the marriage

It's common for one party to have significantly more time to contemplate the end of a marriage than the other party. Usually, it's the party who asks for the divorce that has had time to process the implications. If one party is just now realizing the marriage is over or still has hope that it's not, the mediation will take longer. That's because the parties are using the time to process the divorce rather than resolve the issues that need to be settled.

If you are having a hard time processing the emotional aspects of your divorce and still want to move forward with mediation in a productive way, consider engaging some professional support. Counseling is a good way to process the past while a Divorce Coach can help you focus on creating a future that you're excited about.

How prepared you are

The more prepared you are to discuss the issues that need to be discussed, the less time it will take to discuss them. When I say prepared, I mean a few things. One, you'll want to have all background information organized and reviewed in advance of the mediation. For example, if you are going to be negotiating the equity in the house, have the house appraised prior to the mediation session. Also, have the most recent copy of the mortgage statement available if there is still a mortgage on the home.

If you are thinking you would like to stay in the house and will need to refinance in order to be able to do so, speak to a mortgage lender so you know what your options are.

Being prepared also involves brainstorming solutions for each issue that needs to be resolved. Notice that I said to brainstorm solutions and not to just focus on what you want the outcome to be. I often ask my clients to consider mediation to be similar to a giant puzzle. In order to get all of the pieces to fit together, we need to get creative.

Brainstorming solutions that could work ahead of time will make your mediation session more productive.

The complexity of the issues that need to be discussed

Some issues are just more complicated than others. Family businesses in which both parties are involved tend to require more discussion. Additionally, some parenting-related issues are more complicated than others. For example, if you have a child with special needs that requires a lot of support services, your parenting plan may be more complicated than the average parenting plan. Thus, it could take longer to discuss the issues that need to be addressed.

How willing you both are to compromise

Mediation is a great process for families. It gives you control over the outcome rather than giving that control over to the courts. Still, you have to be willing to compromise in order to come to a settlement agreement. Without that willingness, the process can drag on indefinitely.

The mediator's skill level

As with any profession, some mediators are more experienced in handling certain issues than others. Working with a well-trained mediator experienced with cases like yours can help your mediation sessions progress more quickly. An experienced mediator knows how to ask good questions and really listens to both parties. He or she can help parties see where there is common ground when they thought there wasn't any. When parties have a common understanding, they are often more willing to compromise.

Scheduling/availability to meet

To accommodate busy schedules, I offer Saturday morning appointments and some evenings as well. I also offer virtual mediation, so that couples can meet via videoconference instead of in-person. Still, people are busy and if they cannot (or choose not to) find time to meet, the mediation process does take longer. There is no momentum if there are long periods of time between appointments and sometimes it can feel like we are starting over each time we meet.

Most of the mediations that I handle are scheduled in two-hour blocks. We can cover quite a bit in those two hours. I find that many clients begin to get tired after about two hours and the session becomes less productive if we continue when people are worn out.

Sometimes when couples travel a significant distance to work with me in person, I will allow sessions to go longer to limit their need to return.

Contact a Divorce Mediator Today

How long mediation will take is one of the most common questions I get asked by people considering the process. As you can see, the parties involved have quite a bit of control over how long the process will take. If you are preparing for divorce, there's no better time to reach out to a divorce mediator. Contact Great Lakes Divorce Financial Solutions and set up your mediation consultation today. 

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