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Family Law Attorney Stacy Sabatini, Esq.

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

How Mediation Can Resolve Family Conflicts


Even in an uncontested divorce, difficulties can arise. Whether it's childcare, property division, or other sticking points, you and your partner may continually argue about the same thing. You may be at the point where you're ready to take them to court and litigate everything.

This isn't necessary.

If you and your partner keep having the same discussions that go back and forth without any resolution, consider working with a third-party mediator. They can help you work through the things that are keeping you from finishing your divorce.


The Basics

Keeping divorce discussions to yourselves—or between your lawyers—ensures that you keep spinning your wheels. This can keep your divorce ongoing and costly. An uncontested divorce can take as little as three months to finalize, whereas a contested divorce can go longer than a year, depending on the circumstances.

Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution in which both parties agree to meet voluntarily with a third party and negotiate their conflicts and find resolution. Problems such as child custody, property, settlements, or other related conflicts can be resolved satisfactorily. A divorcing couple works with a neutral third party to resolve problems that are delaying the process. Working with a mediator and coming to a settlement also means that you won't have to make an in-court appearance. Your divorce will also be less expensive since litigation is kept to a minimum.

Mediation Makes Things Easier

Both parties negotiate in a confidential environment outside of a courtroom. This makes it less expensive than litigation. The mediator can help both parties draft and complete an agreement that benefits all the parties involved in the divorce.

By understanding the conflict, the mediator brings everyone to a win-win resolution by neutralizing and resolving the undecided issues. Mediation can also be helpful with other types of family law conflicts, such as elder care.

Since mediators are neutral third parties, they are not able to give you legal advice. Furthermore, many are not attorneys, and may not be completely knowledgeable on the laws regarding New York family law. However, many family law mediators are attorneys, which helps them to better understand both sides. You are allowed to bring your divorce attorney with you, but it’s not required.

The Mediator’s Role

A divorce mediator neither takes sides nor represents you. A mediator assists a divorcing couple in coming to a mutual agreement that meets the needs of both parties as well as the entire family. Mediators can help both parties convey their individual needs and so that they can find solutions, make the right choices, and create settlements that benefit the entire family.

When the court makes decisions for your family’s future, it's based on information in front of the judge. Since the judge doesn’t know you, they don't have a complete picture of your family. By taking the court out of the decision-making process, both parties can come to a much more amenable agreement than having to live with the court's decision.

Mediation allows the couple makes these decisions on their own instead of their lawyers bringing them into court. This means you and your spouse can make the difficult decisions yourself that directly affect your life, instead of a judge. Once your agreement is completed, it is sent back to the judge for signature.

Mandatory Mediation

New York began requiring “presumptive mediation” in 2019. This means that most matrimonial cases are referred to mediation in the beginning of the legal process. This is also true for custody cases that are not connected to a divorce.

The rules vary in different New York counties. As a rule, once a divorce has been filed, the courthouse staff reviews the paperwork and decides whether each case is eligible for presumptive mediation. Couples can also request mediation through the courts.

If your case is referred, but you prefer not to do mediation, you can request an exemption. In some counties mediation is required, and in others it's voluntary. You could also end mediation if you feel that it's not working, but the judge may issue a second order. However, you’re not required to agree to anything in mediation, even if there is an order to participate.

The cost of mediation will depend on whether you use a private service, a nonprofit mediation service, or a court-connected mediation. But if the court has referred your case, you may be eligible for free or low low-cost services from your local community dispute resolution center or with a court appointed mediator.

Our Experienced Family Law Team Puts New York Families First

At the Law Office of Stacy Sabatini, Esq., we provide an array of family law and related legal services to families in Rockland, Orange, and Westchester counties, including divorce mediation. If your New York visitation order is not being followed, or you need to learn more about New York visitation orders, please contact our office online by filling out our online form or call (845) 243-0295 today!

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