In today’s fast-paced world, time is more valuable than ever. This is true for everyday tasks like commuting, getting work done, preparing meals, and even exercising. People are busier than ever, and constantly looking for ways to save time.

Time is equally (if not more) valuable when it comes to planning and completing important life events, such as divorce. Nobody hopes their marriage will end in divorce, but the reality is, many marriage do end this way. And here’s another reality: A lot of people dread divorce proceedings. Why? Because they’ve heard horror stories from friends and loved ones who have been through it themselves. There are heated arguments, lawyers, and everything is ultimately decided by a judge. When it’s all over, one or both parties are unhappy with the results, and the legal fees are through the roof. Not to mention all the valuable time that’s been lost.

Here’s where divorce mediation can come in handy. When done correctly, it takes those expensive legal battles out of the equation and puts all the power back in the hands in the divorcing couple, helping them to resolve their differences in a way that’s both constructive and economically viable. This is assuming, of course, that both parties are willing to enter into a constructive dialogue, led by a qualified and experienced divorce mediation counselor.

But how long does divorce mediation take? Can it cut down on the time required to finalize a divorce, or does it actually take longer?

In most cases, divorce mediation (again, with the help of a standout professional) will result in significant time-savings for everyone involved. The question of exactly how long a divorce will take using these methods depends on the particulars of the situation. Are both parties able to quickly produce the necessary information, and arrive at constructive agreements on all the various aspects (child custody, finance, and so forth) of the divorce? If so, the divorce may be ready to send through the legal system in as little as two meetings with the divorce mediator. If there are more complicated issues, or if the divorcing couple has trouble reaching agreements on key issues, the process can take longer.

Even when divorce mediation takes longer than average, however, the overall timeframe of the divorce is usually shorter. That’s because divorce mediation is a constructive process, into which both parties have voluntarily entered. Meetings are conducted with both parties present, and are guided by the mediation specialist. A qualified professional knows how to address all the various issues involved in a divorce, and is skilled at facilitating cooperation and progress. This generally leads to more timely agreements when compared to a litigious divorce in which each party is fighting the other through lawyers.

Divorce mediation is a definite skill, however, and it’s important not to put your divorce in the hands of just any mediator. Those with advanced qualifications, including the CDFA (Certified Divorce Financial Analyst) and certifications in counseling and psychology, tend to be more adept at getting the best result. So if you or someone you know is considering divorce mediation, choose your specialist wisely!