What Decisions Will a Couple Make in Divorce Mediation?
Couples who choose divorce mediation as a path to divorce discuss and resolve issues for themselves in order to satisfy the requirements of NY’s “no fault” divorce law. In mediation, it is the mediator’s responsibility to raise questions about property, custody and support, facilitate discussion around them, inform about the law and when necessary, provide possible options. It is the couple’s responsibility to make decisions and reach agreement.
Custody and Access (If there are children of the marriage)
Who will make decisions about the children’s health, education and welfare? Where will the children live? What is a schedule of access that is practical and comfortable for the children? How detailed should the schedule be regarding weekdays, weekends, holidays, birthdays, vacations etc.? Should there be geographic limits set for the relocation of either parent? How to address communication, travel and visits with extended family, etc.
How will savings, investments and retirement accounts be divided? Who, if either spouse, will stay in the marital home? If it is decided that the home will be sold, when would that take place? How will the proceeds be split and who will pay the associated expenses? If either or both of you own a business, what is the value? Is there marital debt? How will those debts be paid? How will personal property such as cars and furniture be divided? Did either spouse have separate property at the time of the marriage?
What will future budgets look like? Will maintenance (also known as alimony) be necessary? If so, how much and for how long? What happens when salaries and/or the cost of living goes up? Will one spouse need to obtain new health insurance?
What is the presumed correct amount of support under NY’s Child Support Standards Act? Will that amount be the agreed amount for support or will there be a deviation based on factors relevant to specific circumstances? Which parent will assume responsibility for the children’s medical insurance? How will additional expenses such as childcare, extracurricular activities and non-covered medical expenses be paid? Will college expenses and associated costs be paid for? How?
Which tax professional will be consulted? Who is “Head of Household” for filing? How will exemptions, refunds, deficiencies and audits be addressed?
For purposes of health insurance and taxes, what is the best timing to file for divorce? Will new “Last Will and Testaments” be made? How will beneficiary designations and insurance policies be changed? Will there be an agreement to mediate future disputes?
Discussions around these questions need time and consideration. The number of mediation sessions required to address them varies from couple to couple and depends on their specific circumstances. Most couples need 2-8 sessions.
Do you have questions? Read our Frequently Asked Questions.