One of the most common questions I get in consultation calls is – How long does mediation take?
The answer is that most people complete mediation within 2-4 two hour sessions – so about 4-8 hours of mediation. The majority of my clients finish within 3 sessions, so 6 hours of mediation. I can usually offer appointment times 2 weeks apart. So, if you’re able to meet consistently mediation can be completed start to finish within about 6-8 weeks. If both parties are prepared to make decisions and eager to complete the process I also offer half-day sessions where you can complete the process within 1 day, and 1 follow-up meeting.
What factors affect how long mediation takes?
- Children – if you have dependent children then a Parenting Plan will be part of mediation. This typically takes about 2 hours to complete, but it’s not uncommon to complete them within 1 hour if parents have uncomplicated schedules and already have a very good idea of how they intend to co-parent.
- Complicated Property – Most people have a home, some assets, and some debt. When you start getting into multiple properties, vacation homes, multiple investments, and pensions, then things can get a little more time consuming. Working through this type of property isn’t difficult, but it can take more time to determine after-tax values, names and numbers on accounts, and things like pre-marriage value.
- High Conflict – When there are lots of interpersonal and communication issues that need to be addressed in mediation then you can expect that it will take longer to work through things. Be grateful that you’re in mediation and give yourself the time you need to work through them! We’ll get issues on the table and work them out. High conflict doesn’t meant that mediation is going to take forever. One of my most high conflict clients still only took 6 sessions, and the vast majority of my clients (high conflict or not) still finish in 3 sessions.
- Time Needed to Make Decisions – Sometimes clients aren’t ready to meet every 2 or 3 weeks. Sometimes they want more time in between meetings because they’re having a hard time dealing with the emotional upset of going through a separation. Sometimes they need more time to gather proper documentation such as pension evaluations, or to make decisions such as what they want to do with the family home.
Timing is everything. Mediation is the best way to move through your separation at a time-frame that works for you and your family.