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How Long does the Average Mediation Process Take?

Average Length of a Mediation Case

In Morris County Courts

Mediation is a method employed by attorneys and courts for resolving family and custody disputes. It is a neutral, non-binding process that can take last as little as an hour and up to many days.  Many matters can be resolved during mediation, perhaps the most common of which are divorce-related issues, so it is important to understand this option if you are considering a divorce in New Jersey.

What is mediation?

Mediation is the requested intervention of a third party in resolving a dispute.  A mediator is a neutral party that guides the respective parties in reaching an agreement that resolves their issues.  This method of discussion and agreement occurs in different formats and is usually conducted over several sessions.

What are the different ways in which people use mediators in family and custody issues?


If two parties are considering getting a divorce, mediation can be used by the parties before filing the divorce complaint.  In such a situation, mediation is completely voluntary. Working with a neutral mediator to resolve impending problems avoids protracted litigation through the courts.  This saves couples time, money, and prolonged emotional burden.

Notably, all couples are different and will have different experiences with the mediation process. Some meet with the mediator and find they are working well together and not much time is needed for a resolution of all issues.  In other circumstances, the parties know that they are far from reaching an agreement and wish to file for divorce and resolve their issues later.

Post-filing of the divorce complaint (issues related to custody and parenting time)

After a divorce complaint is filed, if there is an issue with custody and parenting time, the court will order mediation.  This mediator is someone employed by the court and is not paid for by either party.  However, the parties are compelled to attend this mediation on a given date and should anticipate spending approximately an hour with the mediator.  If the parties cannot reach an agreement, the couple will continue to litigate the issues with the court.

Early Settlement Panel

After mediation, the court will set a date for the divorcing couple to attend a court conference before an Early Settlement Panel (ESP).  The Panel is made up of practicing attorneys in the community who are entirely neutral.  They are not mediators, but they do try to assist the couple in reaching an agreement on marital property and financial issues surrounding the divorce.  If the parties cannot reach an agreement, they will be ordered to attend one hour of mediation on another day and time.

The court-ordered mediation is mandatory and paid for by both parties.  The mediator is generally someone agreed upon by both parties. This mediator usually has family law experience and is someone with whom their respective attorneys are familiar.

How long does court-ordered mediation take?

The divorcing couple will meet with the chosen mediator on the selected date.  This meeting usually lasts an hour, but the mediator can stay longer if he or she believes that progress is being made.  The mediator may choose to meet with each party and their attorneys individually for a few minutes and then with the respective attorneys briefly.  When attempting to resolve the dispute, mediators generally do not divulge their private conversations to the opposing party. Rather, they use the information to facilitate a productive conversation.

As mentioned above, sometimes the parties are close to resolving the issues and only an hour is needed.  If more time is necessary, the attorney or clients can agree to meet on another date or dates. Sometimes, the sessions will occur a few hours a day over the course of several days. In other instances, one additional (short or longer) session is needed.

Contact a Family Law and Divorce Mediation Attorney Today

There is no one-size-fits-all mediation process. Essentially, it can take as much time as is necessary to resolve all disputes. In some cases, the parties may discover that they are too far apart in their disagreement and no amount of mediation would prove productive. No matter the circumstance, our attorneys can guide you through the mediation process and advise on the legal aspects of any potential agreements.

Protect your interests and contact us today for a confidential case evaluation. Give us a call at (973) 447-3943 to schedule an appointment at our office conveniently located in downtown Morristown, NJ.