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Your Comprehensive Guide to Long Island Divorce Mediation

What You Need to Know About Divorce Mediation
Contact Us for a Free ConsultationCall 631-923-1910

Divorce mediation is an option for many New York residents who want to prevent a long, drawn out, stressful, expensive (financially and emotionally) divorce. Divorce mediation can dissolve your marriage as quickly, easily, and inexpensively as possible. Here’s your complete guide to Long Island divorce mediation.

Divorce Mediation Defined

Divorce mediation is a type of legal resolution that involves a divorcing couple meeting with an unbiased, neutral third party to reach an agreement on various aspects of the divorce. This third party is trained in the art, science, and psychology of negotiation as it relates to dissolving a marriage and can assist you and your ex-spouse in finding common ground.

Typically, mediation costs less and is shorter than a traditionally litigated divorce. Many couples who are relatively amicable will make an attempt to mediate their divorce prior to pursuing a court settlement. If you should decide that mediation isn’t working for you, traditional litigation is still an option. However, once you begin the litigation process, it’s more difficult — if not impossible — to turn back.

What’s the Difference Between Mediation and Uncontested or Collaborative Divorce?

Often, the terms “collaborative divorce,” “mediation,” and “uncontested divorce” get used interchangeably. However, there are some key differences between them.

• Both collaborative and uncontested divorce can involve the act of mediation
• A collaborative divorce can be an uncontested divorce
• An uncontested divorce can be the result of mediation and/or collaboration or the result of a private agreement between spouses

In a collaborative divorce, you, your ex-spouse, and each of your attorneys meet together to negotiate or mediate the terms of the dissolution of marriage. You may also have other professionals on your team, such as a financial neutral or a divorce coach. Both of you will be required to sign a collaborative law agreement, which states that if you or your ex-spouse decides to withdraw from the collaborative divorce process, you will need to retain new legal representation.

“Often, the terms ‘collaborative divorce,’ ‘mediation,’ and ‘uncontested divorce’ get used interchangeably. However, there are some key differences between them.

  • Both collaborative and uncontested divorce can involve the act of mediation
  • A collaborative divorce can be an uncontested divorce
  • An uncontested divorce can be the result of mediation and/or collaboration or the result of a private agreement between spouses”

How Does Divorce Mediation Work?

You’ll begin your divorce mediation on Long Island by meeting with your selected mediator, often over the phone or potentially with a legal assistant for a quick case screening. You’ll be asked a few questions about your relationships with your spouse and children, and what your key areas of concern are. Depending on the mediator, you may only answer brief questions prior to your first in-person meeting, or you may be asked for comprehensive information about your case before scheduling the initial consultation.

At this meeting, often held in a neutral setting like an office or conference room, your mediator will go over what you can expect during the process of mediating your divorce and what your legal options are. Discuss with your mediator your comfort level with being in the same room as your ex-spouse and set guidelines on how you can communicate privately with your mediator at various times as needed. You’ll likely be asked to fill out some essential paperwork and sign a confidentiality agreement.

Benefits of Mediation

There are many benefits of divorce mediation, including but not limited to:

Less Time, Money, and Stress

A litigated divorce can take months and in some cases, even years. If you and your ex-spouse have a difficult time communicating or being around each other, the length of a litigated divorce can significantly impact your emotions and stress levels. Going to court isn’t inexpensive either — the more matters that a judge has to decide for you, like child custody and property division, the more hours your attorney has to put in and therefore the higher the cost of the overall divorce.

Mediation can help reduce the time it takes to dissolve your marriage and move forward, and the hit to your pocketbook usually isn’t as hard. This means that you can start your life after divorce sooner rather than later, and with more financial resources to help support newly independent living.

The Impact of Mediation vs. Divorce on Children

A litigated divorce also has a significant negative impact on children. Children often have difficulty processing the emotions involved in watching their parents’ marriage end, and the messier that ending is, the greater the negative impact on the child. When contentious custody issues arise, the child may feel like it’s their fault that you’re fighting and may even blame themselves for the divorce.

By mediating your divorce and avoiding contentious litigation when at all possible, you can help protect your child from some of the fallout of the split. While your child will by no means be unaffected, mediation can help the child better process their feelings about the divorce by keeping the split more neutral and constructive.

Will You Be Able to Mediate Your Divorce?

Divorce mediation is an entirely voluntary process, meaning both you and your ex-spouse must agree to mediate and discuss matters relating to the divorce together in an effort to reach an agreement. Mediation can be an excellent way for families to reduce the time and cost of their divorce and move forward as soon as possible with the next chapter of their lives. However, mediation isn’t right for every family. Mediation may not be the best option for you if:

• You and your ex-spouse disagree on multiple matters related to the divorce
• You and your ex have difficulty speaking to each other or refuse to speak to each other
• You are unwilling to make any compromises regarding what you want out of the divorce
• There is a history of domestic violence in your marriage either toward you or your children
• You or your spouse are attempting to hide financial information from the other
• You are unable to reach any sort of agreement regarding child custody and visitation

In some cases, a litigated divorce offers the best opportunity for a desirable divorce settlement. Your Long Island divorce lawyer can discuss with you the benefits and caveats of divorce mediation in your particular case so you can make an informed decision about the right path to dissolving your marriage.

“Mediation may not be the best option for you if:

• You and your ex-spouse disagree on multiple matters related to the divorce
• You and your ex have difficulty speaking to each other or refuse to speak to each other
• You are unwilling to make any compromises regarding what you want out of the divorce
• There is a history of domestic violence in your marriage either toward you or your children
• You or your spouse are attempting to hide financial information from the other
• You are unable to reach any sort of agreement regarding child custody and visitation”

Navigating the Process of Divorce Mediation

Although divorce mediation is usually far simpler than a contested divorce, making your way through the process of mediation isn’t necessarily easy in and of itself. However, keep these tips in mind when navigating your mediation to set yourself up for success:

• Keep an open mind and be flexible on the matters you can be flexible on.
• Make sure you get the support you need not only legally, but emotionally via counseling, divorce groups, etc.
• Maintain a good attitude when possible during mediation sessions and strive to set an example for your ex-spouse.
• Ask your attorney any and all questions about your mediation; your divorce lawyer is a valuable resource you can tap into.

Above all, give yourself time and grace to process difficult emotions and close this chapter of your life. Even if you and your ex-spouse are amicable and mediation goes smoothly, the end of your marriage is a significant life event. Seek out what you need to nurture and support yourself through the process of divorce.

Top Questions Divorcing Couples Ask Long Island Divorce Mediation Attorneys

Here are some quick answers to the most common questions New York divorce lawyers get asked about divorce mediation:

What Does Divorce Mediation Cost?

The cost of divorce mediation varies widely from case to case. For example, a couple who has been married only a year with no children and little property to divide may find that their mediation goes quickly and costs less than they anticipated. On the other hand, consider a couple married for 20 years with four children, a home, vehicles, and retirement benefits. In this case, the issues are more complex and will likely take more time to resolve.

Even if both parties are amicable and agreeable to compromise, there are simply many more matters to address in divorces where couples have children or have been married for a significant amount of time. How long your mediation takes directly correlates to its cost — verify your mediator’s hourly rate and be sure to keep track of your expenses as you go through the process.

How Long Does Mediation Take?

Naturally, every divorce case is different and there’s no way to predict exactly how long dissolving your particular marriage will take. However, looking at the averages can help you get a rough idea of what kind of time frame you should expect and plan for.

Each mediation session is usually about two hours, and the majority of divorces are resolved in three to four sessions. Complicated divorces where children or property are involved may take longer, even when a couple is agreeable. In these cases, the average mediation takes about 4 to 6 months to resolve.

How Do I Choose a Divorce Mediator?

Choosing the right mediator for your divorce can seem challenging, but it boils down to ensuring that you’re 100 percent comfortable with the legal support you’re receiving.
You should ensure that your mediator is:

• On board with your goals and what you want to see come out of mediation
• Experienced with the specific matters involved in your divorce
• Able to provide you with clear, straightforward answers to your questions in language you can understand
• Is encouraging, compassionate, and understanding
• Is supportive but also unafraid to be clear about your legal options

It’s important that you and your divorce mediator are on the same page about your divorce goals and that they’re well-prepared to represent you. If not engaging in a collaborative divorce, your mediator can also serve as your divorce lawyer if you proceed to litigation.

“keep these tips in mind when navigating your mediation to set yourself up for success:

  • Keep an open mind and be flexible on the matters you can be flexible on.
  • Make sure you get the support you need not only legally, but emotionally via counseling, divorce groups, etc.
  • Maintain a good attitude when possible during mediation sessions and strive to set an example for your ex-spouse.
  • Ask your attorney any and all questions about your mediation; your divorce lawyer is a valuable resource you can tap into.”

What Challenges Could I Potentially Face During Mediation?

While divorce mediation can help you avoid some of the common pitfalls of divorce, like higher costs and long, drawn-out legal battles, it’s not without its own challenges. You’ll need to be prepared to make some concessions during mediation and be willing to compromise on some matters. It’s important to decide ahead of time what your non-negotiables are so you know what you are and are not willing to give up.

You may find that mediation is unsuccessful, or takes longer than you expected if you and your ex-spouse have difficulty communicating or engaging with each other. Some couples discover during mediation that they aren’t, in fact, able to reach any compromise and have to move forward with litigation. Your Long Island divorce lawyer can help you establish a plan for success and will support you in the event of obstacles that make resolving your divorce more challenging.

Interested in Long Island Divorce Mediation? We Can Help

At Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C., we understand how challenging the idea of ending your marriage can be. Divorces are often wrought with emotions, which are delicately intertwined with sensitive legal matters. It’s important that you work with someone you can trust to zealously advocate for your rights and the best interests of your family.

Contact us today to learn more about divorce mediation on Long Island and if mediating your divorce may be an option to reduce the time and cost of dissolving your marriage. Call now at 631-923-1910 to speak with our experienced legal team or to make your appointment for a consultation.

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