How Long Will It Be Going On?

Divorce and Business Mediator Sandy Balick discusses divorce mediation and the many factors that come into play when determining how long it will be before an agreement is met.One of the most asked questions by couples considering marital mediation is, “How long will it take?” While 3 months is a good working guideline for planning purposes, there are many variables that make hazarding a precise estimate tricky.

The number of issues to be resolved will naturally factor into the number of sessions required. Also important is how well particular couples are able to discuss issues, consider alternatives and come to the many small agreements that will ultimately culminate in a formal Settlement Agreement.

There are other variables to consider. The “standard model” calls for weekly sessions of 1 – 2 hours, although this is not dictated by any law. My own practice is to be flexible in terms of session length, although I have found that 2 hours tends to be a practical maximum. Again, no rule dictates that, for a prepared couple, a session could not be longer.

Primary factors that may act to increase the number of mediation sessions, or just the period of weeks over which sessions themselves are held, may include some or all of the following:

  1. The time required to assemble financial information for disclosure and other purposes (this starts early in the process and may, as a practical matter, stretch out over a period of weeks);

  2. The ease with which couples are able to interact to consider and work out property and financial solutions (even cooperative couples may have their sticking points);

  3. The necessity to obtain input from experts and consults such as:

    1. Real estate appraisals and/or other asset valuations;

    2. Psychologists regarding parenting and personal issues;

    3. The need to consult with retirement and pension plans to evaluate asset division requirements;

    4. Attorneys for advice on family law, tax, estate, bankruptcy, immigration and other issues;

    5. Any other form of outside advice or information important to understanding and resolving an issue, or which is critical to the reciprocal disclosure process;

  4. The extent to which family and career commitments dictate postponements.

It typically takes from 4 to 8 sessions to bring things to a conclusion, with variations on either side of this possible. Obviously, highly complex situations, which are no less suitable to mediation than simpler matters, may increase the number of necessary meetings.

A convenient guideline is to allow 3 months for the process to play out. With planning and effort, sessions may be lengthened and small conference call sessions may be held to speed up clarification of issues.

Next blog: What follows mediation?

Sanford (Sandy) Balick, Attorney & Mediator, NY Sandy Balick signature
Sanford E. Balick, Esq.
Founder & Principal Mediator
Consensus Point Mediation, LLC.

Phone: (646) 340-3434
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