As they are contemplating divorce, parties often view the process as one involving tremendously diverging extremes: You will either become embroiled in an all-out war and bitter, costly litigation, or the proceedings are amicable and you can agree on every divorce-related issue down to the last detail. The truth is that many dissolution of marriage cases fall somewhere in between these two scenarios. Though they do not get along well enough to remain married, both parties share common goals regarding children and can compromise on some of the other divorce matters.
However, if this describes your situation, you might be experiencing some challenges in getting to a meeting of the minds. This is where divorce mediation enters the picture as an option for resolving disputes and getting you on the right track toward compromise. It is essential to work with a New York divorce lawyer to take the lead on the process, but there are six points to keep in mind regarding mediation.
- Mediation is very different from litigation. Instead of a “win-lose” scenario, mediation envisions a collaborative process for resolving divorce disagreements. During the proceedings, the parties and their attorneys sit down with a professional mediator to discuss disputes. This person is specially trained to facilitate productive conversation and pinpoint areas where the parties can agree, reducing or eliminating the issues that need to be decided by a judge.
- You might be required to participate in divorce mediation. The New York State Unified Court System has established a plan for presumptive alternative dispute resolution (ADR), in which the majority of disputed cases would be referred by judges to mediation instead of court. The strategy seeks to reduce some of the backlog in the divorce court system, but it also recognizes that these cases can be resolved more amicably through mediation.
- You might NOT be able to work out divorce in mediation. Point #2 above notwithstanding, not all cases are appropriate for mediation. In the presence of domestic violence of abuse, either regarding a spouse or children, your case may not be eligible for mediation.
- Mediation gives you more control over the divorce process. With mediation, the parties create a divorce arrangement that suits their own personal situation. If you go to court to conduct a hearing, the judge is required to apply New York State laws on division of marital property and alimony – which could result in a finding that suits neither party. Compromise and collaboration in mediation means you have control over your post-divorce future.
- You can work out custody and visitation issues through mediation. It is also possible to work out a parenting plan and schedule during the process, and then include these details in the mediation agreement. Still, your custody and visitation arrangement must comply with New York’s best interests of the child standard, so a judge will carefully review it before entering the order.
- There is a possibility you may still need to go to court. If you cannot reach an accord on some divorce-related issues, a hearing in court may be necessary. However, those matters that were part of your mediation agreement can remain in place, so the hearing process will be limited to disputes – and much shorter.
Our New York Divorce Attorneys Can Provide Personalized Details
These six points are useful as guidance, but you need customized legal advice regarding whether divorce mediation is the right fit for your situation. Our lawyers at the Mandel Law can explain the details on the process, represent you during mediation proceedings, and handle the essential tasks regarding your court case. For more information on our services, please contact our Manhattan office by calling (646) 770-3868 or visiting our website.