Do you know someone who has complained that their divorce dragged on and on… that their life was in limbo throughout the process… that they couldn’t wait to move on with their life? If they were from Westchester, this comes as no surprise. As I explained in my previous blog Divorce Westchester Style — Just the Facts, this is because a litigated divorce in the Westchester County area frequently takes between two and five years. Mediation, on the other hand, can usually be completed in two to eight sessions.
Why a Litigated Divorce can take Significantly Longer than Mediation
So, why the enormous difference in time involved? A key factor is communication. Mediation fosters effective communication between the parties while litigation tends to stifle it.
To illustrate, I often refer to the childhood game of telephone we all used to play. Think back to that game. Players sat in a circle and took turns repeating a few sentences to the person next to them until the message made it all the way around the circle. A big laugh resulted when the last person attempted to repeat to the group what the first person said. Somehow, the message got all mixed up and distorted and in no way resembled the original statements. While this game evoked fun and excitement for us as children, it is certainly no way to handle a divorce. Yet, this is EXACTLY what happens in a traditional divorce.
Think about it. Is it really a good idea to put several lawyers in the middle of a difficult divorce communication? I’m sure any of your friends who might be going through a protracted, litigated divorce would answer with a resounding no.
The Key to a Speedy Divorce is Clear Communication — A Core Component of the Mediation Process
Mediation, on the other hand, requires that all discussions take place face to face so it takes less time to resolve disputes. Both parties get to hear their spouse’s needs straight from the source, without the distorting effects of the “telephone game” translation issue.
In addition to communication challenges, litigated divorces can take significantly longer than mediation for other reasons as well. These include:
- Countless legal documents that need to be filed and then answered,
- Separate meetings with separate attorneys,
- Phone tag between the lawyers,
- All of the discovery in preparation for trial,
- Waiting for court dates and decisions,
- Settlement conferences,
- Courtroom proceedings – the trial.
- The list goes on…
And as you might imagine, these issues are totally out of the control of the spouses.
You Have Options
In my mediations, I approach a divorce as a problem rather than a contest. I encourage both parties to direct their energy toward attacking this problem rather than attacking each other. Using this approach, a divorce settlement can usually be reached in just a few sessions. I put my clients in complete control of deciding the pace of the process.
So, do what many smart divorcing couples are doing in Westchester. Agree to mediate and get on with your life a lot sooner.
For your complimentary consultation call (914) 220-8188 or send email.