The duration of a specific mediation is largely a function of the motivation level of the spouses. If spouses are eager to complete their divorce quickly, the mediator is generally able to accelerate the process to a few months (or even weeks). Motivation is not the only factor, however. The need to obtain and review extensive financial records or address complex financial issues often requires the spouses and mediator alike to slow down to ensure that complex issues receive sufficient attention and emphasis. If one parent has recently left the home, spouses will often slow the mediation down before finalizing an agreement to allow the children to adjust and to try out new parenting schedules. Emotional barriers, including anger or a spouse’s desire to reconcile rather than proceed with a divorce, may need to be addressed before spouses can proceed to substantive issues such as parenting time, child support or alimony, or the division of marital assets. Lastly, if each spouse reviews a mediated agreement with an outside attorney, additional time may be needed to allow for the attorney’s schedule and the resolution of any final details.
Each mediation is unique, so there isn’t a standard answer. The timing depends on the number of issues, their complexities, and whether there is an agreement on any of the issues. Couples come to mediation at different stages in the divorce process, and the duration of a particular mediation will often depend on how eager the spouses are to complete their divorce and the degree to which they enter mediation with a clear idea of the main issues they agree on.