Q: How long does it take to get a divorce through mediation in Massachusetts?
A: The time it takes to get “through” the Mediation Process initially depends on whether or not each party returns a properly completed Probate and Family Court Financial Statement. The Mediator needs a correct Financial Statement for many reasons. An insufficient Statement causes delay and increased cost. At the outset, the Mediator will provide clients with the form and instructions.
To complete the Divorce Mediation the mediator will guide the parties through any issues surrounding the three major components of a Separation Agreement – the children, support and division of property.
The length of time it takes to resolve each component is directly related to the amount of disagreement on each component.
For example, if the parties have already agreed on how many over-nights the children will spend at each parent’s home, they have essentially resolved about 1/3 of the Divorce Mediation. The same applies to support. If the parties agree with the accuracy of each other’s Financial Statement and their respective post-divorce financial needs, they will also have resolved 1/3 of the Divorce Mediation. Lastly, if the parties agree on the accuracy of each other’s Financial Statement and have already decided how the property listed on each Financial Statement will be divided between them, then they will have resolved 1/3 of the Mediation.
Assuming a fact pattern similar to the above, then the mediation can be completed in less than three hours. There remains only the preparation of the formal Divorce Separation Agreement by the mediator. (Only divorce mediators who are attorneys can prepare Divorce Separation Agreements.) Under the above scenario, it would take about one and half hours or less to prepare the Agreement.
So how long does a divorce mediation take? About four to five hours if the Financial Statements are accurate and the parties are in agreement as to the major issues.
A: A sample timeline (when there are no holdups) for divorce mediation:
A first appointment is usually available within 5-15 days.
• After our first meeting, I get you a draft of the separation agreement within about 1-2 weeks. This can take longer if there are real estate, business, or pension appraisals that need to be done.
• We then schedule a second meeting of about an hour-and-a-half, usually 1-4 weeks after I get you a draft separation agreement.
• At the end of the second meeting, you sign the updated documents and I notarize them.
• You then “file” them at the county probate courthouse and pay a $215 filing fee to the court.
• About 1-2 weeks later, you receive a letter from the court specifying a court date, typically 2-6 weeks after the date of the letter.
• On your court date, you have a 15-minute court hearing where the judge signs the agreement.
• 120 days after the judge signs the papers, you are officially divorced.
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