Why Mediation is Faster Than Divorce Litigation

The breakup of a marriage is stressful. Everyone’s emotions are in turmoil. Some spouses feel angry. Others feel aggrieved and bitter. Still others feel betrayed and fearful of what the future may bring. Children often think they were somehow to blame, resulting in guilty feelings. The longer a divorce takes, the more likelihood that such reactions might become chronic stress or depression that could lead to long-lasting physical and/or emotional illness.

How long a divorce takes depends on several factors, including:

  • where you live;
  • if your divorce is litigated or mediated; and
  • if your local family court has a case backlog.

What Can’t be Shortened

Divorce laws differ from state to state. Some states have a mandatory “cooling off period” after the divorce is filed before it can be finalized, such as Arizona’s 60-day wait. Other states have a mandatory separation period during which couples must live apart before they can even file for divorce. These can range from six months in Louisiana and Minnesota to five years in Idaho.

All states have their own form of no-fault divorce, but many no-fault divorces are still litigated because the spouses can’t agree on anything, let alone everything, and hire separate attorneys. If differences on one or more issues cannot be settled out of court, the case must proceed to trial and getting a court date can take months. This is especially true if you live in a high-population county where court docket backlogs are all too common.

What Can be Shortened

While you have no control over your state’s divorce laws or your county’s court docket backlogs, you do have control over the type of divorce process in which you choose to engage.

By definition, litigation means that people fight each other. Each side wants exactly what it wants and neither side wants to give an inch. In addition, there are two attorneys involved, each with his or her own caseload, scheduled court dates, and other professional commitments that can make conferences and even phone conversations difficult to arrange.

Mediation works differently and much more quickly. You and your spouse resolve all your differences in a few regularly-scheduled meetings under the guidance of a neutral mediator. You arrive at a property settlement agreement and parenting plan with which you’re both relatively satisfied. You don’t have to go to court. A judge simply approves your documents and finalizes your divorce. It’s not uncommon for a mediated divorce to take less than 90 days from start to finish, even including a mandatory cooling-off period.

The choice is yours. Fight things out to the bitter end or get your divorce over and done with quickly and as amicably as possible.

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