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My husband and I live in Massachusetts and are getting a divorce. If we decide to hire a mediator and go that route instead of court, about how long will that take? In our case, the only thing we need to settle is property division. I understand the answer probably varies, but is there some ball park number of sessions that are usually required. Also, is it kosher for us to talk about the issues outside of mediation even after we start the mediation process, or should we try to limit our discussions to those in front of the mediator? Thanks.

 
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How long will mediation take?

Dear KarenQ, Your question comes up frequently. In my experience, most couples complete the mediation process somewhere between 3 and 8 sessions. The interval between sessions depends on your particular schedules and needs, but most often is about 2-3 weeks. My sessions usually last around 1 hour, possibly slightly more, but never more than 2 hours. In the last session, you and your husband sign all the necessary documents, which I have prepared, and we discuss the court proceedings and how to file. In most uncontested divorces, a hearing is scheduled within about three weeks after filing. After approval by the court at your hearing, there are two back-to-back waiting periods of 30 days then 90 days. On the 120th day, your Massachusetts divorce becomes final. Until then, you remain a married couple. If you need more information, go to parkermediation.com.
If you are on Cape Cod, call (508) 681-0040, or if you are in central Massachusets, call (508) 795-0200.

Mediation in MA

Helpful information from Attorney Mark Petersen.  AS for your second question, I can't speak for Attorney Petersen, but I believe most mediators encourage the parties to maintain open lines of communication and to continue talking to each other about the outstanding issues, even after the mediation session is over.  Obviously, if the parties are able to reach agreements on their own, fewer sessions with the mediator are required and the parties will spend less money on the mediation process.  However, as you and your husband begin the process of selecting a divorce mediator, you should certainly ask this question of all candidates.  Make sure the answer you get is in line with your wishes regarding how the process should move forward.  Good luck.

KarenQ, You should also know

KarenQ,

You should also know that agreements reached in mediation are not absolutely binding. The mediation sessions are for the benefit of parties and to encourage a quick and amicable separation. As such, communication outside of mediation is certainly allowed and usually encouraged as long as such communication does not turn contentious.

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