Couples seeking a divorce have different options available if they wish to avoid the litigation process. Mediation offers an alternative, private option to resolve some of the issues involved in divorce in a less adversarial setting, allowing both parties to come to decisions that are beneficial to them. Mediation may be a less costly route, but it may also be a more time-effective route as well.
During mediation, couples meet for a number of sessions with a neutral mediator. The mediator helps guide the discussion and assist the parties in carrying out a constructive conversation about the matters at hand, such as child support, spousal maintenance, asset and debt division, and child custody agreements. The length of these sessions can vary, but typically are one to three hours in length.
The number of sessions will also vary. Couples with significant wealth or assets, or difficult child custody issues, may require more sessions with a mediator than those with fewer assets. Couples embroiled in a contentious separation may also require more sessions.
It is important to note that once you have reached an agreement in mediation, you are not automatically divorced. Once the spouses have reached a resolution through mediation, the consulting attorneys for the parties (or, in some cases, the mediator) will create a separation agreement, which both spouses are required to sign. After the agreement is signed and notarized, it is legally binding, and can be incorporated into the eventual divorce judgement that will be issued by a court.
Does mediation really save time?
In the long run, yes – it often does. Couple who choose to forgo mediation often end up litigating every aspect of their divorce, which means the attorneys must go through discovery, take depositions, and evaluate all assets and debts. They must also prepare for a trial in case the couple is unable to settle. All of this takes both time and money.
Can my attorney serve as a mediator?
No, he or she cannot. Mediators are neutral third parties; attorneys work for their clients. While both your and your spouse’s attorney will work with the mediator, the mediator has no vested interest in the outcome and will not advocate for either party. This is necessary to ensure that both sides are heard during the mediation process.
However, it is beneficial to work with an attorney who also has experience as a neutral mediator. At Berkman Bottger Newman & Schein LLP, our NYC divorce mediators can help you prepare for mediation, and represent you during the process as a consulting attorney. We can also serve as mediators if you and your spouse have already chosen different counsel.
Berkman Bottger Newman & Schein LLP provides skilled divorce mediation services throughout New York, Westchester, and Bergen County, NJ. To set up a consultation, please call (212) 466-6015 or leave us a message through our contact form.