Divorce Mediation is a voluntary and confidential process where a neutral third party, the mediator, facilitates discussion between participants as they make the decisions necessary to end their marriage. As an impartial and trained divorce mediator and attorney, I provide couples with information about the law and options for possible solutions; establish an environment where each person has an opportunity to speak and express interests and concerns; and bring the discussion back to the issues in order to keep decision-making as the focus.
Mediation provides a quicker, less costly and less stressful method to reach settlement on critical issues. It is designed to avoid the delays and increased costs caused by misunderstandings, posturing and the “grab all you can” mentality of a contentious divorce in the hands of opposing divorce attorneys. Mediation avoids the trap of endless delays and postponements of an overburdened court calendar that often results in unsatisfactory results for both parties. My goal as a mediator is to assist you in reaching a mutually beneficial outcome at a fraction of the cost of a litigated divorce.
Unlike in court, mediation is private and you control the schedule. For couples with children, mediation is particularly beneficial as is sets a tone of civility and provides a framework for future problem solving and co-parenting.
Collaborative divorce is an excellent option for couples that would like to control the terms of their divorce and avoid going to court but who also wish to retain attorneys to conduct negotiations on their behalf. In the collaborative divorce process, the attorneys work together to provide solutions in the best interests of both parties. The discussion is based in cooperation and creativity not in adversarial posturing. Collaborating with your spouse and his/her attorney is designed to be a cost effective way to reach agreement because there is no time wasted waiting in court, playing phone tag or making disingenuous demands. Clients control the schedule and benefit from face to face discussions allowing for review and control of the options available.
The goal of the collaborative team is settlement and the threat of litigation is never used. In fact, as part of the collaborative process, the parties sign an agreement that provides that in the event the process breaks down they will retain new counsel in order to begin litigation in court.
Once agreement is reached, the attorneys will prepare and file the necessary paperwork with the court.
When a couple decides to split up they may pursue a legal separation or divorce. A legal separation is where spouses enter a legally enforceable contract that sets forth their agreement about the division of marital assets and debts, parenting and financial support of their children and financial support, where needed, of one spouse (also called maintenance or alimony) but where the marriage is not legally terminated. The cost of health insurance and one’s filing status on income tax returns are factors a couple may consider when deciding whether to legally end a marriage.
Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements
A prenuptial agreement is one reached by a couple in anticipation of their marriage. It sets forth the couple’s arrangements regarding financial issues such as payment of loans and debts and preexisting support obligations in the event of divorce or death. It must be based on full and honest disclosure of assets and liabilities.
A postnuptial agreement is made during the course of a marriage and is designed to address financial and other issues in an ongoing marriage. The couple agrees on the disposition of financial issues in the event of divorce or death. It must be based on full and honest disclosure of assets and liabilities.
Parenting and Child Support Agreements
Co-parenting your children after divorce requires an agreement that addresses the needs of both parents and children and is specific and clear about how future decisions will be made. The agreement will provide details about the health, education and welfare of the children as well as set forth schedules for when each parent will have time with the children including weekdays, weekends, holidays, vacations and travel. In NY, parents are required to support their children until age 21 with a few exceptions. The NY guidelines for the amount of support are based on income.
In mediation, couples may choose to follow those guidelines or choose not to follow the guidelines. They may base the amount of support on actual expenses or they may devise their own formula for the amount of support using a combination of income and expenses. In all cases, your agreement will provide specific details about future events. It will be durable and anticipate issues of growing children.
Marital or couples mediation is for couples who wish to remain together. It is a way for couples to discuss “hot topics” that may be getting in the way of their enjoyment of each other. The mediator will facilitate discussion about issues that have interfered with the relationship. The goal is to generate an agreement with concrete solutions that the couple will use to help them navigate their future. The issues can be around money, children, behaviors, etc. Unlike therapy, it will not be necessary to uncover motives or history to ascertain the “whys” around the issue. Mediation is meant to produce practical, livable solutions through discussion and negotiation.
Consulting and Review Work
At any time before, during or after mediation, you may consult with an attorney. The mediator is focused on serving the needs of the couple and will provide information about the law. She may not, however, provide legal advice, even if the mediator is an attorney. It is up to each person to decide whether they would like to consult with an attorney in order to ask questions about their rights and obligations under the law or about how best to advocate for themselves on particular issues. It is most common for people to seek out the assistance of an attorney for review after agreement on the issues has been reached. Consulting and review attorneys generally work on a defined and hourly basis.