Those are two difficult questions. Estimation of time is problematic for a mediator, since the answer depends almost exclusively on the parties’ cooperation and their personal negotiation styles.
Yes, there are ways to speed up the mediation process. But whether this is appropriate depends on the scenario. If the parties can speak productively to one another outside the presence of the mediator, that presents an opportunity for the parties to get a “head start” on some or all of the issues. They can then bring these ideas to the mediator’s attention when the related topic arises.
Another method to speed up the process is to speak respectfully and productively to the other party in the process. Not doing so has a host of negative effects, which can draw the process out needlessly.
It is also beneficial to “relax” your viewpoint. This includes the willingness and patience to explore alternatives and, within reason, to do what is necessary to alleviate the other party’s concerns. Listening to and understanding those concerns will help to move the process along. Willingness to reach accommodation on these issues is very helpful.
A helpful thought is to focus on the future, not the past. More often than not, the past has little or no impact on the future and only leads to blame and other unproductive communication.
Coming to the table with emotional grudges can create havoc in the mediation process. If such is the case with either or both parties, participation in counseling and/or a support group can help reduce emotional strain, allowing the parties to logically focus on resolution.
Finally, realize the spectrum of “quick and easy” on one side and “the law” or “fairness” on the other side. You can certainly not investigate certain things, such as an asset’s value, in order to get it over “quick and easy”. However, you could be taking a very large risk that you may not obtain what you would under the law, which is often what is referred to as “fair”. This is a judgment call that only you can answer.