Often, when people envision the divorce process, they see a hotly contested legal battle with two expensive lawyers in a big courtroom and an intimidating judge that wields the power to control their finances, their lives, and even the lives of their children. The truth is, most cases, even those that involve litigation, do not need to be the knock-down, drag-out brawls that people fear.
One way to resolve your divorce outside of Court is through a process called Divorce Mediation, where a couple makes the conscious choice to try and work out their issues with an unbiased, trained third party, thereby conserving their time, money, energy and control.
Divorce Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution (commonly referred to as AADR) wherein both parties meet together with a single trained professional for a number of mediation sessions, and the mediator guides the parties towards an agreement on all the issues of their divorce, from the marital residence and credit card debt, to child support and custody.
The mediation process is often a less expensive and potentially less stressful alternative to litigation that allows people to maintain control and actively participate in creating the final terms of their divorce settlement. While mediation may not be for everyone, it could be an effective way for you and your spouse to part ways.
There are many reasons couples choose mediation, instead of or before resorting to litigation.
The top five reasons couples choose Divorce Mediation over litigation are:
Many people save money using Divorce Mediation
Couples who successfully mediate their divorces do not incur unpredictable litigation costs. When a case goes to Court, attorney fees are billed by the hour for court appearances and motion practice that often accompanies litigation, and can quickly add up. It can be difficult to estimate the time that will be required to litigate, which is affected by numerous factors out of your (or your attorney=s) control, such as limitations on the judge=s time (many cases are placed on the Court=s calendar for the same day), or an unreasonable or unresponsive opposing counsel.
Couples who mediate, however, are only responsible to pay the cost of one trained mediator, and face minimal court costs. Mediation costs are predictable, and are billed per session.
In addition, when mediating, couples may also avoid losing time at work. In New York, parties to a divorce are generally required to be present for all court appearances, which are typically held on weekday mornings. Parties to mediation have greater flexibility in scheduling. The certified divorce mediators at Petroske Riezenman & Meyers will do their best to accommodate your schedule when making mediation session appointments.
Divorce Mediation often increases and improves future communication
Mediation can be therapeutic. During mediation, the parties are free to voice their concerns directly one another in the presence of a neutral third party who is trained to assist in working through the issues at hand. Working through issues directly with your spouse is likely to result in better problem-solving in the future, especially for couples who share children. Parties that share children together often reap the benefit of better co-parenting in the future after participating in mediation. The ability to co-parent with your former partner is critical as it may help avoid future conflicts necessitating court intervention.
During litigation, attorneys are often utilized to communicate and work through disagreements on behalf of their clients, which may hinder the parties from getting to the root cause of their disputes and moving past them. Even worse, litigation runs the risk that a judge will render a decision that does not address either party=s needs or concerns.
The Divorce Mediation process is personalized and tailored to your needs
Working with a trained divorce mediator allows individuals to devote as much time and energy as they want on the issues that matter the most to them. This is not always the case during litigation, especially within the confines of an overburdened judicial system. Mediation permits each party to be an active participant in every aspect of their divorce.
A successful Divorce Mediation results in a carefully planned and nuanced settlement agreement that works best for the parties, because the couple is able to decide on every facet of their separation/divorce. A decision issued by a judge, on the other hand, is often less detailed and may not address all contingencies.
Aside from the obvious benefits to being an active participant in your own settlement agreement, crafting an agreement that both people had a hand in allows for more post-divorce stability. If parties take the time to craft an agreement that is unique to their needs, the likelihood of future litigation decreases dramatically.
Your case may be resolved faster through Divorce Mediation
During mediation the parties control how many sessions they want to attend and how quickly or slowly they want to work through various issues. In contrast, once a case is brought before a judge, it is restrained by the timeline set by the Court.
Parties to Divorce Mediation maintain the right to full and complete financial disclosure
During mediation, as in litigation, each party has the right to disclosure of information regarding all of the couples= assets and debts.
If a couple has a legal issue which requires the use of an expert, such as an appraiser to determine the value of a home or business, or an actuary to value a retirement asset, the couple can and should employ these professionals. Couples are able to take their time choosing neutral experts and reviewing reports in a non-adversarial environment, which allows them to reach the best solution for their family.
The law firm of Petroske Riezenman and Meyers, P.C. has two trained and certified matrimonial mediators, Danielle N. Murray and Katelyn A. FitzMorris, who can help you and your spouse navigate the process of obtaining a divorce or separation. Our divorce mediators will help you reach an agreement that works for your family, and as licensed attorneys they can also draft the documents necessary to finalize a divorce or separation.