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Family Law Attorney Stacy Sabatini, Esq.

News and insights about divorce and family law in New York.

How Mediation Can Make Your Divorce Easier

Divorce planning includes many decisions you may not have anticipated. Some decisions aren’t included in a prenuptial agreement. This may include visitation arrangements for your children, property division, spousal support, and other things not covered in the prenup.

In years prior, when a couple decided to split, they both hired their own attorney and handed everything to them. Conflicts were handled by the attorneys, whether they developed before or after filing. Spouses frequently fought over these conflicts, leading to expensive litigation that left everyone with ill feelings.

An alternative to this scenario is to bring mediation into the divorce process. For couples who choose mediation, conflicts are resolved outside of a courtroom. Both parties make their own decisions, instead of leaving them up to a judge, whose decisions may not be what either one wanted.

What Mediation Can Do

If you are still unable to resolve issues with your spouse, mediation can help you work through the conflicts so you can move forward. Once you have worked through them and agreed on those decisions, you can then file an uncontested divorce that’s less expensive and faster than a contested one that includes litigation.

If your spouse will agree to mediation, you will both need to choose a mediator that you both like. Once you’ve decided on the right person, book your sessions.

The mediator is a neutral third party trained in dispute resolution. They may or may not be an attorney and will not favor one spouse over the other. This is different from having a divorce attorney to advise you on your petition, your decree, etc. You can still have a divorce attorney. But mediation and subsequent agreement is generally between the spouses.

The mediator works with both of you to resolve any unfinished parts of your divorce. However, the agreements reached in mediation are not binding as they would be from a court order. You cannot be required to agree to anything, nor can you be required to follow the agreement by the mediator. This is strictly voluntary unless ordered by the court. However, once both parties sign, the agreement is entered into your divorce, it will be included in the court order just as it would in a contested divorce.

Engaging in mediation may help your divorce proceed amicably. Children can also see a mature approach to resolving differences better than with other methods.

Cost of mediation

A lower-cost DIY New York divorce is possible if there aren’t many issues to settle and you just want to end the marriage and move on. But unless you’re a divorce lawyer yourself, chances are you won’t know enough about New York’s divorce laws for an optimal outcome. You may compromise and agree to something just to get it over with, only to regret that decision later. This is especially true for financial issues such as spousal support. You can compromise to get the divorce finished, only to discover later that you agreed to be short-changed for the sake of that compromise.

While mediation may cost more than the DIY divorce, it is considerably less expensive than a protracted legal battle in court. A contested divorce can traditionally cost upwards of $50,000, and even more if wealth or considerable assets are involved. Trials are risky and outcomes are unpredictable, since the judge has significant power over the outcome that determines the future of you and your children.

Mediation usually costs less than $10,000. On average, New York divorce mediation will run between $2,000 and $8,000, depending on the circumstances and the issues involved. Of course, every case is different. But the fees for divorce mediation are much less than two attorneys battling each other at pricey billable hours. 

Easier on you and your children

Divorce is stressful enough. Going through divorce mediation is much less stressful, as well as less costly. Litigation is a win-lose situation, while divorce mediation is more of a win-win situation.

Mediation can also make it much easier for the children during and after the transition to separated and divorced.  Most parents would prefer not to drag their children into a courtroom or involve them in litigation. Many parents prefer that their children are kept away from the conflict and avoid involving them. Mediation allows you to keep the children out of it and reduce the amount of conflict.

Although the parents will no longer be married and together, both children can continue their relationship with both as they co-parent. Mediation helps parents establish the best co-parenting relationship they can going forward.

Who shouldn’t attempt mediation?

Even with a high success rate, there are some instances where mediation should not be attempted.

  1. Domestic abuse. If you have experienced threats or domestic violence, or if you fear for your own or your children’s safety, you should work with a family law attorney to begin your divorce.
  1. If your spouse is hiding marital assets, burning through marital funds, or otherwise being deceptive, mediation probably won't be effective. Mediation works when both parties are honest, truthful, fully disclose everything, and follow the rules.
  1. If your spouse is attempting to delay the divorce, a mediator cannot order either of you to take any action. Even if the other spouse agrees to mediation but stalls the process, it’s ineffective. Tactics like these are usually because a spouse wants to avoid paying support, delay the proceedings, or simply abuse the process.
  1. If one spouse has already hired an attorney, or claims a fault for divorce, mediation is must less likely to be effective. If your spouse already has an attorney, you should also hire one of your own. Speak with your attorney about the possibility of mediation in your case before proceeding.

Divorce mediation is effective for more than 95% of cases. If you're interested in speaking to someone about the possibility of mediation for your New York divorce, speak with someone who can offer specific suggestions for your case before you start.

Experienced Family Law Mediators For New York Families

At the Law Office of Stacy Sabatini, Esq., we provide offer mediation and other family law services to families in Rockland, Orange, and Westchester counties. To find out more about paternity, child support, custody, and visitation orders as well as our other services, please contact our office online by filling out our online form or call (845) 243-0295 today!

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