How long does the court process take versus mediation/collaborative?
Divorce is a stressful time for everyone involved. If you are considering divorce, it is important to understand the different options available to you and how long each process takes. There may be benefits to one over another and it is best that you understand all of your options before moving forward with one. Below are brief descriptions of the court process, mediation, and collaborative processes which can help you decide what route may be best for you.
Court Process (1+ years)
Mediation and Collaborative Divorce are often better options than going to court. The court process is a long, expensive, and stressful process that is not the best option for most people. The court process is adversarial and you will have to be prepared to argue your case in front of a judge who has no stake in your divorce or marriage but will make decisions based on what he/she thinks is right at that moment with very limited information. Mediation and Collaborative allow you to maintain control over your situation and costs, which makes it much less stressful than having someone else make decisions for you.
Mediation (3-6 months)
If you are not sure if you want to divorce, mediation may be a good option for you. Mediation can be less stressful and more streamlined than court, and it also tends to be less expensive. In mediation, both parties work with an impartial third party (usually a lawyer, but can be a mental health provider or a financial neutral) who helps guide the discussion through talking points relevant to their particular situation. Because there are no judges or juries involved—and because the mediator does not issue decisions on behalf of either party—mediation is usually regarded as less adversarial than court proceedings.
Mediation is much faster than most court cases: With all due respect to lawyers everywhere, it takes more time for them and their staff to prepare their cases before trial versus working through issues with clients live during mediation sessions. Mediation sessions usually run about an hour and a half to two hours at a time, and are usually spread out every three to four weeks so that the spouses have time to gather any necessary information. Mediation usually is over with in a matter of six months or less (sometimes much less, depending on how quickly the spouses move), litigation can take a year or more.
Collaborative Process (3 to 6 months)
The collaborative divorce process is a unique alternative to traditional legal proceedings. It is based on the idea that both parties are better off working together outside of court to reach a fair agreement. In mediation, the parties have to advocate for their own interests, with the mediator remaining neutral. By contrast, in Collaborative Divorce, each party has his/her/their own attorney, who helps them advocate for their needs, while also looking at the family as a whole. In both of these processes, spouses are able to participate directly in their own settlement.
The collaborative process allows you and your spouse to hire attorneys who collaborate with each other directly instead of being traditional “opposing counsel”. They have meetings to create joint agendas for the group meetings and coordinate resources that would be helpful to either or both parties. The lawyers meet with their clients for regular meetings and communicate about how best to proceed in order for them to come up with a mutually beneficial solution for all involved parties, and also participate in team meetings with both spouses, both attorneys, and sometimes other professionals (as needed).
Collaborative divorces usually take much less time than litigation proceedings because the attorneys are actively working toward resolving issues between two people rather than just one party attacking another person’s case against them and inflaming the parties’ conflict (as happens during litigation). Since all sides are involved from start to finish in the collaborative process, there is no need for any sort of trial or hearing as there would be if someone were suing another individual or corporation over some kind of dispute; therefore, this helps keep costs down while allowing everyone involved enough flexibility within their lives so they don’t feel pressured into doing anything harmful just because another person wants something different than what they do, which also happens frequently during litigation.
These types of negotiations allow couples who otherwise might not have been able to reach an agreement without first having gone through some sort of formalized trial process-and potentially end up fighting each other to be able to avoid the court process all together and divorce together.
Divorce can be a difficult process but you can get through it.
Divorce is a difficult process for everyone involved. It can be especially hard if you and your spouse have any kids together, even if they are adults. If you are not sure what to do or how to handle things, try talking to someone who can help you get through this tough time and help you figure out what option is best for you.
The best thing to do when facing a divorce is get your questions answered from a reliable professional. Friends and family may mean well, but they do not know all of the circumstances involved nor can they advise you on the law. There are many resouces available, please reach out to our office so we can help.
Hopefully, this blog post helped answer some of your questions about the different ways that you can divorce. Remember, if you feel like you want to try collaborative or mediation that the decision lies only with you and your spouse.
* disclaimer – this is not necessarily how long it will take on your particular case