When couples are considering divorce mediation, they often ask me how long the process will take. It is a difficult question to answer when I have just met the divorcing couple. There are many variables that drive the divorce mediation process.
There is a 90-day waiting period to divorce in Connecticut
In the most straightforward cases, it is not uncommon for couples to complete the divorce mediation process before the expiration of the 90 day waiting period required by the State of Connecticut. Perhaps we meet for 3 or 4 sessions to gather information and make decisions. We will meet once again to review a draft separation agreement. We then meet shortly before the date of their divorce hearing to update the numbers on their financial affidavits and sign the documents.
A number of variables determine the time line for divorce mediation:
How complex are your finances?
Many divorcing couples have fairly simple financial pictures. Other people have more complex situations. For example, they may own a family business, have a home in foreclosure, or have an income that varies widely from year to year. In addition, there may be a need to consult outside experts to appraise real property, value a business or a pension, or get tax advice on structuring a settlement. Perhaps there are immigration or bankruptcy issues to consider. Each of these issues is likely to take some time to resolve.
Have you gathered your financial information?
The divorce process requires the collection of information about your assets, debts, income and expenses. If you have gotten organized and collected information before beginning divorce mediation, you will save time. For more information about the information you need to collect see: http://vickivolper.com/financial-information-to-collect-in-preparing-for-divorce/
Have issues been discussed before beginning the divorce mediation process?
Some couples have sat down together before even consulting with a divorce mediator and have come to tentative agreement on many issues. While we will revisit all of these decisions in divorce mediation, and perhaps revise them, couples who have discussed some issues are ahead of the game. Even if the couples’ decisions are revised, the process of talking about them and crystalizing issues can help the process move more quickly. Still, discussion of divorce issues outside of mediation is not always advisable. See: http://vickivolper.com/should-couples-negotiate-between-divorce-mediation-sessions/
How busy are you?
Sometimes well-intentioned couples delay the divorce mediation process for reasons beyond their control. Work and travel schedules may interfere with scheduling mediation sessions. When too much time elapses between sessions, the mediation process tends to lose momentum and slow down.
What is the level of emotion when divorce mediation begins?
Many couples begin divorce mediation after much consideration and discussion of divorce . Other times, one spouse is thrown into divorce unexpectedly. In the latter situation, it is understandable that it might take time for the second party to accept the idea of divorce before engaging effectively in the mediation process.
While there are variables that may make the process of divorce mediation take more time than you would hope, divorce mediation will be almost always be the quickest way to divorce. It is also the most efficient and cost effective divorce method.