The answer to this varies a lot. Firstly, you’re in control, you decide how long you want between appointments. If you want to move through the process quickly or slowly.
I’ve had clients who met once a week for 4 weeks, they resolved everything in the sessions and signed their agreement and court papers. From start to finish it was 5-7 weeks.
My longest-running case took 9 years. They would come in when they needed help resolving something, once a year or year and a half. Their child grew up, they put him through college, sold the marital home and were still married. When they came in to sign their papers, they both cried. Even though they hadn’t lived together in years, it still meant something that they were married. The official end of the marriage was an important marker.
I’ve had cases where one partner has toyed with the idea of separation; run it through their minds for months or even years and is now ready to tell the spouse they want to break up. Meanwhile, the spouse is shocked.
“Every time we fight you threaten divorce, but you never did anything about it, so I never thought you were serious.”
“You’re telling the mediator that you were so unhappy. Why didn’t you tell me that, during our marriage?”
In those situations, we have to give the non-initiating spouse the time to adjust to the idea of the split; begin to mourn the big changes that come with a break-up. They have to process the loss of the future they thought they were going to have before they’re ready to make decisions about how their lives will be structured in the future.
Often, they’re not doing that processing with me; but with a therapist, or just with friends and families. I don’t hear from them for 8 or 12 or 16 months and they come back in a different place. Looking stronger and more confident, ready to approach these decisions.
On average though, couples finish the mediation process in 2-18 months.
What to Tell Your Kids During Your Divorce with John Yacos
Rachel chats with Matrimonial and Family Law Litigation Attorney, John Yacos.
In mediation, we work to make space to have conversations that you have not been able to have on your own, which can help you to have closure, and to move forward without needing to keep rehashing the past.
The answer to this is personal, and it depends where you are both at. Are you 100% sure that you are headed for divorce? Or is there a chance of separating for a few months, a year, even 3 – and then reconciling? Do you feel that you would not be able to date if you are still married? Is one of you on the other’s health insurance?
There are three differences between signing a full separation agreement and living apart, according to its terms, and filing for a divorce.
Is mediation or collaborative divorce the right fit for you?
After you decide that you are going to separate, the first questions you want to answer are: What process will work best for you both? Who are the professionals who can help you to find the steps through to this next phase of your lives? Do you both want to try mediation with a neutral third person to help facilitate your conversation? Or would you prefer to have your attorney sitting next to you during your negotiations?
You may have been wronged – but getting stuck in conflict, and seeking revenge, will only keep you thinking about and tallying up – reliving – those hurts. The goal of mediation is to wrap up this part of your life, resolve and settle, so that you can move forward to your new and (hopefully) happier future, without the conflicts of the past. Let them go!
In mediation, we start from an underlying premise that we can find a place which will meet the needs of all members of the family. This is not always the case in litigation and often times the needs of the family get lost in a power struggle full of fear & defense.
Your children will never thank you for destroying their other parent
Children always know the truth of their parents’ divorce. They will focus on it, and listen carefully to everything they hear, and piece together the story.
The longer you are embroiled in conflict, the longer before your children can settle back into being normal kids – focusing on school, friends, music, soccer – and not on the conflict between the two people they love most in this world.