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When a couple in New York decides to separate or divorce, they will need to deal with a number of different issues. They may need to decide how to divide their marital assets and debts, whether one spouse will pay spousal support to the other one and the amount, child custody and visitation and child support matters. It is common for people to have heightened emotions when they separate and divorce, but it is possible in many cases to work out full settlement agreements through an alternative dispute resolution process instead of waging bitter litigation battles in court. Mediation may help couples to reach agreements even when they might initially think that doing so is impossible.
What mediation is
Mediation is an informal process that happens outside of court. Couples meet with a trained and neutral third party who is known as a mediator. The mediator has special training in facilitating agreements between spouses who are divorcing or separating. He or she will meet with each spouse separately, going back and forth between them while trying to help them to negotiate a compromise and agreement.
If an agreement is reached during mediation, the mediator will draw up a memorandum that outlines everything that was agreed to by the parties and give each spouse a copy. The spouses may then have their individual lawyers review the agreement, and if it correctly outlines what was negotiated, they may file the agreement with the court that has jurisdiction over their divorce matter. When it is accepted by the court, it becomes the judge’s order in the case as a part of the divorce decree.
If a full agreement is not reached through mediation, people can choose to proceed with their divorce case in court and litigate the issues. People who are able to reach agreements on some issues may file the agreements for those so that they limit the issues that will still require litigation, saving time and money.
Why mediation may be a better option than litigation
There are several reasons why mediation may be a better option than litigation for resolving divorce cases. Litigation is a long process and may take months or years. It is also quite expensive, and the more that couples battle in court over various disputes that they have with their divorce cases, the more expensive their cases can become. Mediation is much quicker and substantially cheaper, helping people to reach resolutions in fairly amicable fashions so that they can move forward with their lives.
Mediation may also be better for couples with children. Children whose parents engage in nasty battles in court are negatively affected by them. When they see that their parents are instead able to agree, they may be better-adjusted and better able to handle the divorce. Parents will also need to remember that they are going to have to work with each other for years in order to raise their children. Starting early with negotiating agreements may help them emerge from their divorces with less bitterness so that they can be effective co-parents. Finally, very few people walk out of divorce court feeling happy with what the judges ordered. When people work out agreements on their own, they have more control over the outcome and may feel happier as a result.
Cases in which mediation is inappropriate
Despite the many benefits that mediation may offer, there are some cases in which mediation is not an appropriate option. People whose marriages have a history of domestic violence, child abuse or drug abuse might be better off litigating the issues in court. If a spouse believes that his or her spouse is hiding assets, dissipating assets or other such actions, he or she may instead want to litigate the issues so that he or she might be likelier to receive his or her fair share of the marital assets in the property and debt division.
Mediation may be an excellent option for couples who are separating or divorcing in New York. It may help them to save money, reduce feelings of bitterness and allow them to move forward with their lives much more smoothly and faster. Couples who are divorcing and who think mediation might be a good choice for them might want to schedule a consultation with a separation and divorce mediation lawyer.