The Path from Mediation to Divorce

Mediation is a non-adversarial alternative means to divorce. In mediation, a couple attends several one to two hour sessions in an informal office setting to discuss and resolve the issues addressed under the “no fault” provision of NY divorce law. The results of those decisions are then embodied in a legal agreement that will be filed with the court along with other required documents.

As a mediator, I help couples make informed decisions about the issues that must be resolved. I guide discussions about how they can fairly divide their assets such as bank and retirement accounts, how they can plan to pay their debts and how they will budget and manage to pay their bills in the future. A common source for discussion involves possible outcomes regarding the occupancy and sale of the marital residence and how it fits into a couple’s finances. Where there are children involved, I help couples discuss their options regarding custody, access and support.

Once agreement is reached on all of the main issues, the next step is for those decisions to be memorialized in a Stipulation of Settlement Agreement, a legal document that must be drafted by an attorney.

As an attorney, depending on the particular circumstances, I will draft Stipulation of Settlement Agreements for the couples I have worked with in mediation. As both mediator and neutral draftsperson, I have the advantage of incorporating all of the nuances discussed in mediation sessions. It is my practice to review each provision of an agreement in plain English so that there is full understanding by both parties. At this time, or at any time during the process, the parties may consult with their own attorneys in order to confirm that they have reached a fair settlement. Once signed, the agreement is a legally binding instrument that sets forth the terms that will become the foundation for the couple’s divorce.

The final stage involves filing the Agreement along with several additional required documents with the court. After review and approval by a judge or referee of the Court, a Judgment of Divorce will be signed, entered and filed, at which time the divorce is complete.

Even though couples may experience high levels of conflict at the time of their divorce, most can see that it is in their best interest to reach a fair agreement quickly and economically.

If you would like to learn more, please contact me for a no cost consultation.

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