Why Is Mediation Faster than Court?
Divorce isn’t easy, and divorce isn’t quick. But if the marriage is ending, you and your spouse can decide between a process that will take months (mediation) and one that very often takes over a year at a minimum, and which not infrequently takes several times that long (going to court/litigation).
[I am not talking here about an ‘uncontested divorce’. That is a different story and a different blog post, and an option to be considered for couples with a very ‘simple’ case and one without disagreements.]
Why Mediation is Faster
Mediation often takes between six and twelve hours to complete. That’s it.
Sessions usually run from one hour to two hours.
When dealing with parenting issues, spouses frequently meet with the mediator over consecutive weeks.
When dealing with financial matters, sessions may be scheduled for every other week (or with a longer interval) to allow the spouses to obtain information about the value of a house, business, pension, or other assets; or, let’s say, to work out a budget.
Of course, the spouses may need time between sessions because of travel for work, holidays or for other reasons. The mediator may also have a conflict.
In practice, many spouses successfully complete mediation within three – six months.
[When I say that parties have reached the end of the mediation, I mean that they have reached all of their agreements. But just as when going through the court process, the agreements need to be written out and filed with the court; then, there is the wait for the judge to sign the document.]
Why the Court Process/Litigation takes Longer
A spouse meets with an attorney; the other spouse does the same. A four-way meeting (with the couple and the lawyers) takes place. In many instances, though not all, these meetings bring out strong disagreements. Any of a number of motions (requests to the judge to make a decision) may be filed with the court. There is the first court appearance. Over the course of a case, there will probably be at least one and maybe several adjournments (postponements), and the court appearance will need to be rescheduled.
In many cases, depositions are taken, where the spouses are questioned by opposing counsel during a multi-hour process that is recorded.
For four people to schedule a meeting can be a challenge and cause delay. Adjournments can be for six weeks or more.
And at this point, the court case is just getting started.
Most court cases require quite a few court appearances, not to mention a possible trial.
If there are children involved, a New York judge will likely appoint a forensic psychologist to meet separately with each family member. Think of the scheduling for that. After, the psychologist must write and submit a report to the judge, who will need to read and consider it. You’ll find out more about that report at the next court appearance.
Also, if there are children, an attorney for the child may be appointed to represent the child’s interests. That is another meeting (or more), and that attorney’s schedule to consider as well.
Just for some context, my own divorce many years ago took well over two years, and that was with my ex and I settling long before a trial was even in sight.
And that was at a time, I believe, when the courts were better staffed, making the process speedier than it is today.
All blog posts are for information purposes, and should not be considered as legal advice.