“How Long Will It Take?”
“How long will it take?” followed by “How much will it cost?” are, often, the two first questions people ask when they have committed to getting a divorce. As I am not a lawyer, I’ll address the answer to this question as a Mediator. Different process choices may alter the answer to this question but the considerations will, likely, be the same. Here are some of the considerations, below:
How Long Have You Been Married?
If you have been married for, say, over 20 years, it’s not reasonable to assume that you are going to wrap up all your negotiations in a few short weeks. Both you and your spouse have been dovetailing your life for years and it will take awhile to separate things into separate piles. While all divorce professionals understand that family transition is not an easy place to be emotionally, the negotiations that you and your spouse make at this time are so important to your future. You should take the time to consider all your choices and make informed decisions…and try not to rush.
Do You Have Children?
If you have financial negotiations to work through and there are no children of the marriage then your separation agreement shouldn’t take as long as if you had kids. Of course, if you both have children’s issues to consider then your agreement will take longer as the kids’ needs have to be addressed. Some people either do not have children or they have adult children which tends to make the negotiations faster as there isn’t as much to consider.
How Much Do Your Spouse And You Agree?
The more you agree, the less it costs both in terms of time and money. I can’t say that there has been even one client who has sat in my office who hasn’t asked me, at the first appointment, how much will it cost. My answer is always the same, “It depends on how much you agree.” I’ve had clients who have gone through a couple of mediation sessions and they made some really difficult choices…but they make them…and then they were ‘stuck’ on one issue that we had to mediate a few times. In the end, you have to ask the question, “Am I paying more for the mediation than the value of what I am fighting for?” and, of course, this one last issue pushed the agreement out about two months.
So, in the end, how long it takes really depends on the clients. My mediation fee is known from the start. I bill hourly. How much it costs really depends on the issues that need to be mediated and how long it will take both spouses to agree.