How long does it take to finalize a divorce?
This depends a great deal on the participants, particularly how quickly the information can be provided to the mediator for the completion of the court-mandated financial disclosures and how quickly the participants can work out an agreement.
Sometimes this happens very quickly and the final judgment can be submitted to the court in only a few short weeks from when mediation begins.
Other times, the participants need more time to reflect on what works best for them, or they agree that an event such as the sale of the house is desired before finalizing the terms of their agreement, etc., and the process takes longer.
In mediation, if the process takes longer, it's typically because the participants need more time and not because their attorneys need more time to pile up billable hours.
Once an agreement is reached and a final judgment is signed and submitted to the court, the court typically takes 2 or more months to process the paperwork.
*Note that in California, the court cannot terminate the marital status of a couple until after 6 months from the time the case is opened with the court. This doesn't mean that the participants and the mediator have to wait 6 months to submit the paperwork, it just means that the official date that the participants are divorced cannot be until after 6 months.
Further details of this will be explained by the mediator during the process.
What if we need more time to mediate?
We recognize that sometimes unforeseen issues arise during mediation that need to be resolved so the parties can avoid going to court.
If your issues are (or become) more complicated and cannot be concluded during the mediation session included in the flat-rate package, additional mediation sessions can be purchased “a la carte” as needed at $300/hour.
What if we can't reach an agreement?
Well over 90% of divorce cases in California reach an agreement and settle without going to trial. The big question is when? Does it take tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of dollars to prepare for trial, then settle right before it, or do parties take a more reasonable and rational route and commit to working through the terms of their settlement early on and save themselves all the grief and expense?
In the rare instances where an agreement is not reached in mediation, the parties always have the option to pursue whatever legal remedies they desire within the court system.
Even if there is an issue of which the participants are unwilling to compromise, they still have the option to agree upon everything else, submit a judgment on all the issues except the one that they were unable to resolve, and leave that issue for determination by the court.