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How Long Does Family Mediation Take?

Editorial Staff

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You may think the biggest reason to seek family mediation is to avoid the costs of going to court. While that might be one big reason, another big reason is to shorten the length of time it takes to finalize the divorce and split from your partner. Divorce courts throughout the country are already backed up enough, thanks to the high rate of divorce. You could end up waiting 1 to 2 years before settling your divorce if you choose to go to court. Who wants to wait that long? Wouldn’t you rather move on with your life?

Family mediation can be so much faster if there is a certain degree of cooperation between the two parties. Each couple will obviously have a different level of resentment or disagreement to work through. Since one mediation session lasts for between 2 to 3 hours, you can get a lot of problems resolved within that amount of time. A lot of couples have problems that stem from smaller disconnections or resentments that really turn out to be unserious in the end. It just takes a third-party intermediary to point it out.

In general, the two main factors that influence the duration of the family mediation process are the marital status and substantive issues that exist in the relationship. Let’s explore each one in greater depth.

Marital Status

Marital status is a pretty straightforward concept. Either you are married to your partner, or you are not. If you two are not married, then it will make the split so much less complicated. You don’t need to worry about getting a divorce and paying for an attorney to handle that process for you. The mediation process may take a few days or weeks to get through in this case.

However, there are some jurisdictions where common-law marriage rules are enforced. This is a law where two unmarried partners who live with each other for at least a year are deemed to have a common-law marriage. That means some of the same rules regarding property and asset division would apply in the event of a split.

If there is common-law marriage in your state, then you could still end up in a courtroom if you’re not careful. Use a family mediation service to prevent this from happening. Don’t gamble on whether your partner even knows about the common-law rule. Just assume they do. But if common-law rules do not exist in your state and you’re unmarried, then you won’t need to make any court appearances.

When an existing marriage comes to an end, the mediation process may take about 6 months. There are a lot more details to work out regarding the finances, children, assets, real estate, and other interests. That links into the next factor of the duration of family mediation.

Substantive Issues

Substantive issues represent all the shared assets and children of a couple, whether they are married or not. The most common substantive issues are child support, alimony, asset division, child custody, and real estate property division. If a couple has no children and very few assets to split, then you can expect the mediation process to last 1 or 2 days. It would be a simple and straightforward session.

On the other hand, couples with lots of real estate properties, assets, and children will need a lot more mediation because there is likely going to be disagreement over who gets what. Certain variables are concerned by the mediator, such as the income of each partner and the level of contributions they’ve made to the family up until now.

For example, let’s say a husband was supporting his wife and kids. The wife was a housewife who took care of the kids and house. Now that the relationship is ending, the wife is entitled to alimony payments and shared custody of the children. The husband may not like the idea of paying alimony payments, which must be ordered by a court.

Therefore, it would be in the husband’s best interest to seek mediation and avoid paying a huge percentage of their income in alimony to their ex. If the wife doesn’t agree, then mediation may take several months before a solution is made.

Conclusion

Overall, family mediation can take anywhere from a few days up until 6 months. It all depends on the unique circumstances in the relationship and the number of assets and children that you had together.

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