Many divorcing couples are looking for alternatives to traditional litigation. Going to court is costly and time-consuming, and couples are better off avoiding this process if at all possible. A lot of couples who want to dissolve their marriages are seriously considering divorce mediation, but one question that often comes up is, “how long will it take to mediate my divorce?”
The short answer to this question is, it depends. Specifically, it depends on the unique factors involved with each case and how quickly a couple can agree. Keep in mind that divorce mediation is a voluntary process, meaning that both spouses must agree to mediate, and both of them must agree to the terms and conditions of any settlement that is reached.
The mediator facilitates the sessions and guides the spouses toward reaching common ground on the various issues involved with their divorce, but they have no authority to impose a settlement that the spouses do not agree with. For this reason, it is impossible to predict exactly how long mediation will take.
All of that said, here is a typical timeline that can give you a general idea of what you can expect. Mediation sessions usually last about two to three hours, and sessions can normally be scheduled about two to three weeks apart from each other. Most couples without complicating factors will reach a settlement within about 8 to 10 hours of mediation time.
For example, in an average divorce where a couple has been married five years or longer with children but with no complex financial issues, the spouses will usually come to an agreement within about two to three months. If, however, you are a couple with substantial assets and a more complicated financial situation (perhaps you own a business, franchise, rental properties, foreign investments, etc.), it could take up to six months or maybe a little longer to reach a settlement through mediation.
Keep in mind also that the court has to sign off on the final settlement in order to make it official. Once it is filed in the New Jersey courts, it can take between 30 and 90 days for the Final Judgment of Divorce to be issued. In Pennsylvania and New York, it might take longer depending on a number of various factors.
Is Divorce Mediation Faster than Traditional Litigation?
Divorce mediation is almost always faster than traditional divorce litigation. In mediation, the parties work with a neutral third-party mediator to reach an agreement on the terms of their divorce. This process allows the parties to come to a resolution on their own terms, without the need for a court to make decisions for them. This usually results in a quicker resolution than waiting for a court to schedule hearings and make a ruling.
Additionally, mediation is typically less formal than traditional litigation, which means that the process can proceed more quickly and efficiently. By contrast, traditional divorce litigation often involves extensive discovery, multiple court appearances, and possibly a trial, all of which can take significant time and resources. This is why mediation is also typically far less expensive than going to court.
It is important to note that the timeframe to complete a divorce through the court system has become significantly worse since the pandemic hit back in 2020. With in-person court hearings suspended for several months, a major backlog was created. Even as of early 2023, the courts are still not completely back to normal.
With divorce mediation, couples do not need to worry about court backlogs and having to wait several weeks or longer between hearings. Mediation can be done on your own time; all you need is to find a time that works for both spouses and the mediator. Divorcing couples can also opt for virtual mediation if that is more convenient and comfortable for them.
What Can Make Divorce Mediation Take Longer?
There are some factors that can make the divorce mediation process take longer:
- Complex Financial Issues: As we talked about earlier, if there are complicated financial circumstances involved, it can take longer to come to an agreement. In cases like these, we have in-house experts available who specialize in various financial disciplines and can assist the couple with the issues that need to be addressed.
- Lack of Willingness to Compromise: If one or both parties are not willing to compromise, it can make it difficult to reach an agreement and can prolong the mediation process.
- High-Conflict Personalities: If one or both parties have high-conflict personalities, it can make it difficult for them to communicate and compromise, which can also make the mediation process take longer.
- The Number of Issues to be Resolved: If there are a lot of different issues that the couple does not agree on and need to be resolved, it will probably take longer to reach a settlement, even if the issues themselves aren’t particularly complicated.
In spite of the various factors that can slow the process down, mediation still usually takes a lot less time than litigating the divorce. This is why many high-profile couples like Paul McCartney and Heather Mills and Sandra Bullock and Jesse James have opted for mediation even though they were dealing with some of the most complex issues that a divorcing couple could face.
Considering Divorce Mediation? Advanced Mediation Solutions is Here to Help
If you are facing a divorce and you think mediation might be the right option for you, contact Advanced Mediation Solutions for a free consultation. We will be happy to answer any questions you may have about the mediation process, how long it may take to mediate your divorce and anything else that is on your mind.
Call us today at (856) 669-7172 or send us an online message to get the conversation started. We are ready when you are.