We’ve all heard about divorces dragging on for months and even years. Some high profile divorce cases such as the Rosendales in California and Purpuras in New York lasted 12 and 21 years respectively! While decade plus long divorces are not the norm, attorney-led divorces will take longer than divorce mediation.
If you’re considering divorce mediation, this blog explores how the divorce mediation process is designed to move more quickly than attorney-led divorce, factors that affect the timeline and how clients can ensure their divorce mediation is swift.
The Divorce Resource Centre of Colorado’s divorce mediation process is designed to last 8-12 weeks. We plan on four to five two-hour meetings, occurring every two weeks. When all parties are aware of this timeline and agree to proceed in good faith, it is much easier for them to stick to this schedule.
Compare our divorce mediation timeline to the traditional attorney-led divorce in Colorado which lasts on average six to 12 months.
There are many reasons that an attorney-led divorce will take longer and some are outside of your control. A big factor is the way the legal system is designed. Every time you or your spouse files a motion in court, you have to give each other a certain number of days advance notice that you will be presenting that motion in court.
Not to mention, the party receiving the motion is given a certain amount of time to respond to it. The same thing is true for the next motion filed, and the next and so on.
Furthermore, attorney-led divorces are dependent on the court’s calendar. Consider that you have to get a hearing date on the docket to start proceedings. Unfortunately, if the court’s calendar is full, you may have to wait weeks or months. COVID-19 threw a wrench into Colorado’s family court machine in 2020 and just as courts were catching up in 2021, there is a new spike of cases with the Delta variant which may lead to another slowdown.
Another factor at play in a traditional divorce is your attorney’s diligence. If your attorney needs more time to gather evidence or respond, or your spouse’s attorney needs the same, everything grinds to a halt for a continuance.
When you have acrimony over agreement, your attorney ends up spending more time, albeit more time fighting for your best interests.
Another factor that makes traditional divorce take longer is the need for outside experts. All divorces involve financial considerations, but while lawyers are experts in divorce and family law, they are rarely also credentialed financial advisors. This means they need to bring in an outside financial expert. To throw more uncertainty into the mix, the outside financial professional has existing clients and their own schedule.
Compare this to the Divorce Resource Centre of Colorado where all of our mediators are Certified Divorce Financial Analysts (CDFAs.) We advise you what financial documents you need, how to obtain them and can analyze them and make recommendations for both of you.
The factors that affect a traditional divorce and a divorce mediation are the same. As a general rule, the longer a marriage lasts, the more work is involved. If the couple has children, there are parenting schedules and decisions around where to live and go to school to decide. If there is a high net worth, there are more financial considerations at hand. Another important factor is the willingness of each party to want to resolve the divorce in a swift but fair fashion.
Below we discuss each of these factors in more detail.
It makes sense that a marriage that lasted three years would involve less complications than a 25 year marriage. The longer a couple is married, the more property they acquire and all of this property is subject to division upon divorce. Also, the longer a couple is married the more debts they may have racked up, whether it’s credit card debt or business related obligations.
The age of the children and whether they have special needs will also have an effect since visitation and custody depends on school schedules and extracurricular activities. Also, if the children have special needs, they will have appointments and additional expenses related to therapy, mobility, etc. If your children are very young, you will have to make decisions on their behalf and may even want to slow down the divorce process so they are better able to deal with the emotions they’re experiencing.
More money, more problems, right? Couples with a significant net worth have more property and it will take longer to decide how to divide it up. When your net worth is lower, you usually only have your home and a few possessions, whereas a high net worth couple may have an inheritance or trust, real estate investments, business interests, retirement accounts, stocks and bonds, jewelry and artwork.
One reason divorcing spouses choose an attorney-led divorce is because they don’t want to be taken advantage of by their soon-to-be ex-spouse. They want an advocate fighting for their best interests. Divorcing spouses in these situations are encouraged to communicate through their attorneys. Traditional divorce is not designed to encourage amicable resolution. It’s about scoring a win and not letting up any ground.
The opposite is true with divorce mediation. Both spouses must agree that cooperation is the only way that a third party mediator can usher in an agreement that each party can live with. Couples who choose mediation can communicate amicably with the same end goals in mind - a better post divorce future for both of them.
A few of the factors affecting the length of time of mediation are outside of your control. Ending a 20 year union will inevitably be more complicated than dissolving a two year marriage. We’re also not encouraging you to cast off your earthly possessions in an attempt to simplify property division.
However, you can prepare yourself for the financial analysis involved and look for ways to improve the communication between you and your soon-to-be ex.
As far as communication, make sure you find the time to talk with your soon-to-be ex about your shared goals BEFORE beginning mediation proceedings. Finally, we recommend familiarizing yourself with our divorce mediation process so you are ready for what each step requires. Preparation will help to expedite the divorce process.
Finally, you’re only a few clicks away from a FREE phone consultation with one of our experienced mediators.