Are Collaborative Divorce & Divorce Mediation Better Ways to Divorce on Long Island?
What Other Options Do My Spouse and I Have to End Our Marriage?
As you are now aware from reading prior blog posts on this site, a divorce on Long Island is a difficult and emotional task involving many legal implications for property, finances and children. The most common way to proceed with a divorce is for you and your spouse to hire independent Nassau or Suffolk County Divorce Attorneys and utilize the court system. This typically brings with it high court fees and legal costs as well as months upon months of stressful litigation. On the other hand, Divorce Mediation and Collaborative Divorce are becoming more and more popular, less stressful and less expensive methods of divorce for couples facing the termination of their marriages in Nassau County and Suffolk County, NY.
What is Divorce Mediation in Nassau County or Suffolk County, Long Island?
If you find yourself facing an impending divorce, you owe it to yourself and your family to inquire about divorce mediation before opting for a contested or uncontested divorce through the court system. The primary benefit of divorce mediation is that it allows you and your spouse to control the divorce process. You will both hire one mediator who will serve as a neutral third party in monitoring the process.
What is the Divorce Mediation Process Like on Long Island?
In divorce mediation, you and your spouse will sit with the mediator, who will listen and take notes as you and your spouse discuss the main issues in your divorce. This may seem similar to the role of a judge during litigation, but rather than the mediator making a decision that will have a permanent effect on your relationship, the mediator will follow your lead. You and your spouse will have any number of sessions with your mediator, depending upon how quickly you are able to resolve the main issues of your divorce. During these sessions you and your spouse will discuss all common issues including property distribution, spousal maintenance, child custody and visitation, and child support, as well as less common issues including division of a business started during the marriage or the valuation of your professional degree. Your mediator will listen to both you and your spouse in an attempt to reach an amicable resolution satisfactory to both of you.
Upon the conclusion of your mediation sessions, your mediator will draft a Stipulation of Settlement reflecting the agreements you have reached, you will review this agreement, and then the mediator will submit the agreement to the court. From there, the court will finalize your divorce and you will receive the final judgment within anywhere from three to eight months depending on whether you reside in Nassau County or Suffolk County.
As you can see, electing to utilize a divorce mediator completely avoids the use of the court system, except for filing paperwork. Additionally, because you and your spouse will only have to hire one divorce mediator, divorces finalized through the mediation process save couples thousands of dollars, and usually many months of back-and-forth as each of your attorneys tries to get the most for his client. As a Long Island Divorce Attorney and Mediator, I have assisted many couples in this process and can attest to its success in not only saving couples money and stress, but in fostering communication that can benefit the family in years to come – especially if you have children together.
Divorce Mediation Works for Long Island Couples Who Can Communicate
However, before having your heart set on divorce mediation you must realize that the process requires you and your spouse to vocalize your wants and needs, and it will only work if you are able to discuss the situation calmly and rationally. You must both be comfortable discussing the divorce with the other. There will inevitably be times during the mediation process where you and your spouse do not agree, but you both must be willing to understand each other and compromise. Therefore, while you should enter divorce mediation with a set of goals in mind, you must remain open minded to changing those goals. The divorce mediator will be there to assist in settling power imbalances if it seems that either you or your spouse are controlling the discussions, but he or she is not permitted to make a decision for you. If you feel that you and your spouse will be unable to find a happy medium, it is unlikely that divorce mediation will be successful for you. In that case, there are other options available to you outside Nassau County or Suffolk County courtrooms.
What is Collaborative Divorce on Long Island?
If you want to avoid a large amount of Nassau County or Suffolk County court intervention, but do not believe you and your spouse can come to an agreement on your own terms, collaborative divorce presents a good alternative for you. Collaborative divorce is a process by which you and your spouse can start the road to finalization of your Judgment of Divorce with little to no court intervention.
To begin, you and your spouse will both hire individual attorneys to represent you in the process (this is the main way collaborative divorce differs from divorce mediation, which was discussed above). Your lawyer will represent your interests while your spouse’s lawyer will represent his or hers. You may think that the presence of two lawyers both fighting for different clients will inevitably lead to court time, but before beginning the process each party involved will sign an agreement stating that no litigation will be commenced. If the collaborative divorce process is unsuccessful, the attorneys originally hired by you and your spouse will no longer represent you, and you will both have to hire new attorneys to move forward with litigation in your divorce.
You may be wondering why you would opt for a collaborative divorce and have to hire two Nassau County or Suffolk County Divorce Attorneys when you could utilize divorce mediation and only have to hire one. The answer is simple: if you and your spouse are not completely amicable or able to communicate in a productive manner, a mediator cannot look out for your own interests; he or she can only listen to what you and your spouse say. Your attorney hired to assist you in a collaborative divorce will be able to look out for your own interests during settlement negotiations but you will still have control over the process by being directly involved.
Why Should I Utilize Divorce Mediation or Collaborative Divorce?
Your Long Island Divorce is one of the most life changing experiences you will ever experience. While the Nassau County and Suffolk County court systems are there to ensure your interests are protected if you and your spouse are unable to come to an agreement, your goal should be to avoid court intervention, and the costs (financial, emotional and time) associated with it, if at all possible. Divorce mediation and collaborative divorce are two less costly and less stressful methods of divorce, but neither is any less thorough or legally binding.
Divorce mediation and collaborative divorce also allow you and your spouse to control the divorce process. In both of these methods you will not be bound by a judgment a Nassau County or Suffolk County judge mandates, rather, you and your spouse will mutually come to an agreement. No one likes to feel as though they have no control over a situation, and divorce mediation or collaborative divorce will ensure you do not have this sentiment during your Long Island Divorce.
Need a Divorce Mediator or Collaborative Divorce Attorney on Long Island?
The experienced and compassionate Long Island divorce attorneys at Robert E. Hornberger, Esq., PC are also experienced divorce mediators and collaborative divorce lawyers who have helped many Nassau County and Suffolk County couples save time, money and stress using divorce mediation and collaborative divorce. If you would like to learn more about divorce mediation or collaborative divorce. Long Islanders are encouraged to call Robert E. Hornberger, Esq. at 631-923-1910 for a free initial consultation. We’ll be happy to talk it over with you.
For more information, visit our Comprehensive Guide to Long Island Divorce Mediation.