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Non-Court Divorce Alternatives in Westchester County, NY
People who disagree have many options. Most broadly, they can ignore the problem, fight to the death to preserve their position, or mutually work towards an amicable resolution. If you are interested in the latter, mediation can help.
Mediation can address a range of issues including divorce, separation, child support, custody, spousal maintenance, post judgment matters, parenting concerns and asset division as well as Prenuptial and Post Nuptial Agreements.
A divorce doesn’t have to necessarily be resolved through a trial, nor does it have to be contentious and costly. Mediation is typically less expensive than litigation and allows you and your spouse greater control over your settlement.
If you and your spouse are able to work together to resolve your conflicts with the assistance and guidance of a divorce mediator, the Westchester divorce attorneys at Berkman Bottger Newman & Schein LLP can help.
What Is Mediation?
Private mediation is a voluntary, solution-focused, confidential and supportive process structured to help people reach mutually acceptable decisions based on their unique circumstances.
The mediator’s role is to act as a neutral. A mediator facilitates the discussions, helps negotiate ground rules, defines the problem(s), provides legal information, clarifies relevant information, identifies the key issues that need to be resolved and helps parties come to an agreement. A mediator is not an arbitrator and so does not decide who is right or wrong or make a final decision.
Mediation can address legal and non-legal issues. A confidential process, it also avoids publicity that often results from litigation and allows for a supportive environment in which to problem solve.
In mediation, each participant has an opportunity to share his/her own concerns and better understand those of the other. All relevant information is disclosed voluntarily rather than through expensive and burdensome litigation. Depending on the circumstances, other professionals may participate, such as an accountant, appraiser or financial advisor.
At a pace and order that works best for the parties, the mediator helps them create a resolution that they each consider to be right, proper and fair. Parties can create a solution tailored to their specific needs and circumstances. When conducted professionally, meditation can reduce or eliminate the hostility of an adversarial engagement. Parties are more likely to own the terms and follow through on agreed obligations.
Berkman Bottger Newman & Schein, LLP, offers both Westchester divorce mediators, and consulting attorneys. A divorce mediator is trained in non-adversarial problem-solving techniques to help you and your spouse come to a settlement that’s fair, equitable and in the best interests of you and your children.
Mediation in Separation and Divorce
For a couple that would like to separate or divorce, mediation allows people to remain in control of the process and protect against uncertain outcome, escalating conflict, litigation costs and delays. The determination of issues that arise in matrimonial and family law are based on a number of separate factors, some of which are subjectively interpreted according the judge’s discretion. There is no crystal ball that assures a specific litigated outcome.
The specific terms of a divorce or separation mediated agreement, including asset division, support, or the creation of a parenting (custody) plan can be tailored to the needs of all family members. If children are involved, mediation permits parents to focus on their children’s best interests and preserve the ability to support each other as co-parents.
Mediation for Prenuptial and Post Nuptial Agreements
Mediation is also an effective process for couples who, in anticipation of marriage, would like to address the handling of financial matters upon the occurrence of certain events like death or divorce (prenuptial agreement) or address those issues during marriage (postnuptial agreement). Sometimes these discussions can be uncomfortable. A mediator can structure the conversation in a manner that can enhance the relationship. Often, by discussing and establishing clear expectations, misunderstandings can be avoided.
Mediated agreements are contracts and require certain conditions to guarantee there is a full understanding of the terms and that the terms are not the result of fraud, duress, overreaching or coercion. Thus, participants are strongly encouraged to retain counsel for consultation. Berkman Bottger Newman & Schein, LLP, offers both Westchester divorce mediators and consulting attorneys.
In the case of divorce, after all issues are resolved, the agreed upon terms are commemorated in a “Separation Agreement” which is filed with the Court to form the basis of a “no fault” divorce judgment. No personal appearance before a judge is necessary.
What Are the Benefits of Mediation?
Mediation is a more compassionate approach to divorce and family law issues. It puts you and your spouse in charge of your divorce, your prenuptial or postnuptial agreements, your parenting plans, and your future, instead of leaving such immense issues in the hands of a judge. In comparison to litigation, the advantages of divorce mediation include:
- Less stress on children. When both parents can agree on the terms of the divorce and work together, it’s easier for children to accept the new family circumstances. With less stress on the parents as they work through the terms of the divorce, the children may experience less stress as well.
- Confidentiality. A litigated divorce or custody matter is typically settled in a public courtroom. This can be an unattractive option for some couples for any number of reasons. Mediation is a private, confidential process attended only by you, your spouse, and the neutral mediator. Your divorce remains your own private business.
- Less expensive. Mediation helps avoid going to court and spending days or weeks of costly litigation. Working with a trained mediator can ensure a more efficient and, therefore, less financially prohibitive process.
- More control. With mediation, you have a much better chance to secure the outcome you want for your divorce settlement. You and your spouse can negotiate, with the guidance of your mediator, to ensure you each address the issues important to you – rather than dealing with the possibility of a negative court decision.
- Reduced conflict. Because you and your spouse are working together to create a mutually beneficial agreement, rather than a judge ordering it for you, mediation tends to be less contentious.
In the event that mediation is unsuccessful, parties reserve the right to litigate their case in a court of law. Our Westchester divorce attorneys can work with you to evaluate whether mediation is a good option for you and your spouse.
Why Do I Need an Attorney for Mediation?
Using a divorce mediator doesn’t mean you don’t need an experienced Westchester divorce attorney to consult with. You may want to consult with a lawyer before mediation or even between sessions to ensure your negotiations are on track. Once your separation agreement is drafted, you should also strongly consider having a qualified attorney review it before signing. You may also want to consult with additional professionals, like forensic accountants, child psychologists and other experts who can clarify and uncover important issues relating to your divorce.
CREATIVE SOLUTIONS TO DIFFICULT & COMPLEX PROBLEMS
All families and marriages are unique - our attorneys take the time to listen to our clients to fully understand the circumstances of their case. Only then do we advise the best legal option for their goals.
PROMPT RESPONSES TO INDIVIDUAL NEEDS AND INQUIRES
Divorce is a time of transition. We understand the emotional and financial stress that clients experience during the divorce process – from day one our team ensures that we provide our clients with prompt feedback so that they are updated on their case every step of the way.
CHOICES AND OPTIONS TAILORED TO EACH CASE
We are one of the only Manhattan divorce law firms offering all three options for divorce: litigation/negotiation, collaborative law, and mediation - providing custom strategies and solutions for our clients.
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Mediation can be an ideal non-court alternative for couples who want to maintain control of their decision-making and settlement of their divorce or family law matter. At Berkman Bottger Newman & Schein LLP, our attorneys can provide outside representation during the mediation process or provide you and your spouse with a neutral and trained mediator. Schedule a consultation today by calling us at (212) 466-6015 or contacting us online. We conveniently have offices in White Plains.