One of the key benefits of mediation is that it generally takes less time to get a divorce than litigation. Litigation is a formal in-court process that involves extensive information requests, evidentiary rules, deadlines, objections, extensions, busy court calendars and the like. These factors typically extend the time to resolve the dispute as well as make it more expensive. Mediation, however, avoids many of these issues. And, in fact, most litigated divorce cases result in a negotiated settlement, which is the same result that you can expect with mediation.
The mediation process is less formal and handled out of court. It also encourages parties to cooperate and work together to resolve disputes. As a result, issues can be addressed more quickly and efficiently than with litigation. While mediation will usually be faster, the actual time needed to settle divorce matters is dependent on a number of factors.
- Number of issues to be resolved. The length of mediation depends on what issues have been agreed to prior to mediation and how many are still left to settle.
- Nature of the conflict. All disputes are not created equally. The more important the issue to a party and the farther apart the parties stand, the longer it will take to resolve.
- Willingness to compromise. Both parties must be open to the process, able to communicate respectfully, and willing to come to agreements that are fair to each other and their children.
- Priorities of the parties. The length of time to get a divorce is partly dictated by the parties’ intent on moving forward expeditiously. In mediation, the parties control the process deciding how often they meet, what is discussed, and when it ends so their actions can shorten or lengthen the process.
When the parties are motivated, mediation can result in a written settlement agreement relatively quickly. With a litigated divorce, the parties may not get any substantive agreements (also known as stipulations between the parties) until at least 3 months into the case.
While the factors discussed above are also relevant in determining how long litigation will take, for court proceedings, the particular court where the divorce is being sought is also relevant. Less crowded courts may but not always result in a faster divorce. Litigated divorces, often times, take between 6 months and 3 years, while mediated divorces can take significantly less time.
If you are considering divorce, contact us to discuss whether your matter would be best served by mediation or litigation.