“How Long Will All of this Take?”

This is a very, very common question we hear from people who are separating.  As with most questions the answer from your lawyer will be that “It depends.”

Whether it’s a negotiation, a mediation, a Collaborative process, arbitration or litigation in court the time it takes to get from start to finish depends on a number of variables.  The good news is that in most cases it’s the clients and not the professionals who have control.

Here are some of the variables that can determine how long a process will take…

  1. Readiness

Sometimes when people separate there is one spouse who really isn’t ready to accept that the marriage is over.  This can take time and it can result in a slower process.  Sure, there are ways to push forward and your lawyer will be able to tell you all of your options.  At the end of the day the best way to get to a reliable agreement is to pace the process to take into account the needs of the “slower” person so that they can participate in negotiating a resolution in a meaningful way.

  1. Financial Disclosure

Financial disclosure is required in any case where people need to make decisions about support or the division property in a family law process.

Given that every process is so dependent on this information, a delay in providing financial disclosure will result in a delayed outcome every single time.  This is something that is generally in the control of the participating parties, although things like pension valuations, business and stock option valuations, appraisals, etc. can take time too.  We recommend starting the disclosure process early.  If there is an asset that needs to be valued, or if third-party information is required before some financial decisions can be made then look to getting these valued as soon as possible.

  1. Emotions

This can be tough.  We can’t turn off our feelings.  When people separate and start the emotional journey that is “moving on” there is an expectation that they come to the table to negotiation the terms of that separation.  It’s asking a lot.

Feelings like hurt, anger, fear, distrust and betrayal make for a difficult negotiation.  The deeper those feelings run the more challenging the discussions become.  Sometimes we need to engage family professionals either within or outside of the process to help people move forward and make good decisions while they process the (very normal) emotions that arise when a family separates.


Your lawyer or mediator will be able to talk to you about these and other roadblocks that might cause a delay in finalizing the legal issues arising from a separation.  Please keep in mind that even where these factors aren’t obstacles, finalizing a separation takes time.  A relationship of any significance cannot be legally unraveled in a week.

Learn more by contacting us at www.gagefamilylaw.ca