How long does a divorce take? | Divorce Process San Mateo County

Divorce Process San Mateo County and other areas in California

The most asked question of Collaborative professionals is, “how long will our divorce take?”  The answer comes from a combination of many factors.  The good news is that you and your spouse have the ability to impact each factor in ways that can lead to a swifter resolution.

The length of time your divorce will take is related to the degree of conflict.  Knowing your personal triggers can help shorten the length of your divorce.  It is important to identify what it is that moves you to a place of anger, fear or the need to defend, and work with your coach to learn how to manage these reactions.  Your coach can also give you tools to help you hear what your spouse is saying in a non-reactive way, and learn how to speak to your partner in ways that allows them to hear you.  Identifying what triggers your spouse can also help you accomplish this goal.  Getting in touch with what you core needs are is very important, as is staying away from the history of blame.

Learning how to listen and take in the other person’s experience is not easy.  It is important to remember that hearing and understanding the other person does not mean you agree with what is being said or the other’s experience.  Do not be surprised if topics you thought would be relatively easy conversations turn out to be something quite different.  These unexpected turns can lengthen any process.

Always remember that your matter will proceed at the pace of the slower person.  Most often one person is ahead of the other in accepting that the divorce is happening.  It is also common for the role of the “slower person” to alternate between spouses during the course of the process.  Making decisions in a highly emotional state often does not lead to durable agreements.  These agreements can unravel because one person was not fully cognizant of the decisions they were making.  Trying to rush decisions is often counterproductive.  Helping the slower person process and accept the divorce so that they can make conscious, informed decisions will help in minimize the likelihood of having to revisit earlier conversations because of a change of mind. Your collaborative professionals can help move the process along.

Prepare for the meetings, both emotionally and practically.  Meet with any professional you may want to speak with or prepare with prior to the next meeting  Acknowledge your struggles to yourself, the professionals and, possibly to your spouse. Be transparent so your needs can be addressed.  Get a good night sleep before the meeting.  Complete any homework or tasks in advance of the next meeting.  This could mean gathering factual data or contacting a resource for further information.  This also means preparing your personal and work schedule so that you are able to respect the process by show up on time, attending for the entire meeting time, and being mindfully present.  Plan for child care and work related obligations.

Become clear about your core needs.  This goes beyond “I want the house” for example.  Explore what keeping the house means to you.  Safety?  Financial stability?  As long as your core needs are met, the practical application of how you meet your core needs and those of your spouse are not as important.  The focus needs to be on your underlying need rather than being assigned a particular asset.  Identifying and addressing the core needs of both you and your spouse throughout the process is important, as it helps move the case forward, and focuses the attention on options that honor those needs.  Otherwise settlement options might be met with positional resistance and create a protracted fight.

Working with your Collaborative professional team for the Divorce Process San Mateo County can help you identify your and your spouse’s core needs, learn how to better communicate with your spouse, and manage the practical tasks and emotions of the divorce process.  There are many tools and tips that the collaborative team can share to help make the process less stressful and facilitate informed decision making.  This, in turn can help shorten the duration of the divorce process, and help you and your spouse come to an amicable and durable resolution.

Lisa Schneider, CFP, CDFA opened Divorce Planning Services, ( in 2000.  Lisa is on the faculty of the International Association of Collaborative Professionals and a member of the Collaborative Consortium, training Lawyers, Mental Health Professionals and Financial Professional in the Collaborative Model both domestically and internationally.  As a Certified Financial Planner and a Divorce Financial Analyst, she works with clients from her offices in San Mateo, San Francisco and Lafayette.

Lisa R. Murray has practiced family law since 1989 serving families and her community as a mediator, collaborative lawyer, and litigator.  Ms. Murray received her license to practice law in California in 1987 and in Hawaii in 2001, and is an active member Collaborative Practice of San Mateo County, Collaborative Practice San Francisco, and Collaborative Practice California, our statewide organization, as well as the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals.

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