How long does divorce mediation take in New York?
A common method for reaching a divorce settlement in NY is mediation. The mediation process involves the two parties and/or their legal representatives meeting with a neutral third party, the mediator, to work out the divorce issues. Mediation offers a pathway toward resolution without resorting to court — although you can still have your divorce lawyer present to advise you. It is often less expensive than a court trial, and the proceedings are kept confidential.
Many couples find that divorce mediation is more amiable and provides better, mutually agreeable solutions when compared to court proceedings. In addition, it often takes less time. The length of a divorce is a major consideration for couples who are eager to put the past behind them and move forward with their new lives.
Length of a typical divorce
Every case is subject to unique factors that may lengthen or shorten the time it takes to resolve the divorce. A divorce will take less time if it’s uncontested. In an uncontested divorce, the parties are able to agree to the divorce and on all divorce-related issues. An uncontested divorce might take as little as three months to finalize.
A contested divorce will always take longer, even if the parties agree to try divorce mediation. On average, it takes nine months to a year to finalize a contested divorce. Particularly contentious situations may take even longer.
Length of a typical divorce with mediation
Divorce mediation can often shorten the length of time it takes to resolve the case, which is one main reason why many couples decide to give it a try. In general, it will take longer to resolve a divorce when the couple has children in common. A couple with children who own their own home might expect to participate in four to six mediation sessions. A couple who do not share children in common might complete the process in just two to four sessions. Of course, issues other than children might complicate and lengthen the process, such as a family owned business.
The average mediation session lasts about two hours. Scheduling can be a factor in determining how long the divorce process will last. Some divorcing couples have very demanding schedules and cannot schedule more than one session per month. Others are able to schedule a session each week or every other week. It’s generally best to avoid scheduling mediation sessions on consecutive days. Both of the individuals can benefit from having some time to reflect upon the issues and proposed solutions before getting back to work. Scheduling in enough time between sessions also allows both individuals to consult their divorce lawyers before moving forward.
Timeline for divorce and divorce mediation
Although every case is a little different, the following is a general timeline for divorce and mediation in New York:
- The divorce has been irretrievably broken for at least six months (for a no-fault divorce).
- Petitioner consults a divorce lawyer.
- Petitioner determines that the residency requirements for divorce are met.
- Divorce lawyer files the complaint with the court.
- The petitioner has up to 120 days to serve the other spouse.
- Upon being served, the responding spouse has up to 20 days to respond to the complaint.
- The spouses attend a series of divorce mediation sessions (approximately one to six months).
Once the spouses reach mutually agreeable solutions on all of the issues, the divorce decree goes before the judge for approval. The divorce will be finalized when the decree is approved. Depending on the county, it may take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to finalize the divorce.
Divorce mediation in Rockland County, NY
The divorce lawyers at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman, P.C. have spent decades in service to families in New Jersey and New York who are dealing with family law matters such as divorce litigation and divorce mediation. It is of the utmost importance not to agree to resolutions proposed in mediation until they are thoroughly evaluated by a divorce lawyer. Our legal team can provide guidance on the long-term ramifications of mediation agreements, and can help shape agreements that resolve complicated issues such as child custody and closely held businesses.
Please don’t hesitate to contact our offices if you have questions about divorce mediation in Rockland County or Bergen County. Our family law attorneys are available to meet with you, discuss your case, and explain how we can work toward a favorable resolution.
Additional resources on divorce mediation:
- New York State Unified Court System, Alternative Dispute Resolution, http://ww2.nycourts.gov/ip/adr/divorcemediation.shtml
- NYS Council on Divorce Mediation, What is divorce mediation and how does it work? https://www.nysmediate.org/faqs