About Divorce Mediation
Advantages of Mediation
•Keeps your issues private.
•Is child-centered and helps keep children out of your conflict.
•Gives you control over the timing and terms of all your decisions.
•Costs less than a divorce process where each spouse negotiates through a separate lawyer.
•Builds trust that will give you and your ex the best chance of attaining a lasting, conflict-free agreement, tailor-made for your family.
Divorce mediation involves both partners equally and directly to work through and resolve all the issues people might otherwise bring to divorce court and use lawyers to negotiate or litigate.
Mediation looks for a “win-win” solution in which each of you defines your priorities and works together to achieve a mutually agreeable resolution that meets your own unique needs. It is inherently more harmonious and less angry than any other conflict solving process because it puts you both in charge of deciding what should happen to your family (and your finances) after separation or divorce.
Mediation works when both partners want it to work and when a skilled divorce mediator helps make it work. Your mediator will guide you through conflict-reducing, face to face conversation about all the issues you need to resolve -- alimony (spousal maintenance), equitable distribution of marital property, child support, parenting plans (custody and visitation). She will help you keep your conversations on a productive, forward looking level. She will help you to evaluate all your options and she will help you create your own agreement based on your own family’s needs and values.
The goal of divorce mediation is a written agreement which both of you fully understand and accept and which will be legally enforceable in the future. Not all divorce mediators can write an enforceable agreement for you: only a New York attorney should draft the agreement. Many mediators have a flat fee for drafting the written agreement.
CASES THAT SHOULD NOT BE MEDIATED
Mediation produces a fair agreement when both participants engage in the process in good faith, with the intention of honoring the best parts of their relationship though a dialogue in which each can express what is important and why. Mediation is not a good process for someone who wants to exploit their soon-to-be ex, or for someone who is not committed to full disclosure of all financial information, or for someone who does not feel confident that he or she can speak for him or herself during the process.
Sometimes in a family there is an imbalance of power such that one of you may not feel comfortable making decisions in mediation. In that situation, a good mediator will help you work through any imbalances so that you both feel confident you have the information and the tools needed to reach an informed agreement. If the imbalance is related to financial issues, you may be asked to exchange financial documents with one another, consult with other experts who can help you evaluate competing claims to property or help place a value on property, and in some cases you may be asked to fill out the long “Net Worth Statement” that would be required in every contested divorce in New York. If you are not prepared to share this information with your partner, then mediation is not the right process for you (though you should know that a court will order you to share this information in a contested divorce process).
Mediators also pre-screen for other issues that may adversely affect the dynamic of open, free conversation and truly voluntary decision-making. Current or past domestic violence can preclude a fair mediation process. Untreated alcohol or drug abuse, or serious mental disorders may also prevent effective mediation if one of you is not able to make thoughtful, informed decisions or if you fear for your safety if you were to express yourself freely in mediation.
A good mediator will tell you whether she believes she will be unable to help you for whatever reason. In that event, she may suggest alternative processes for you to try to achieve your goals.