Divorce Mediation: A Peaceful And Cooperative Divorce Solution
Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is an alternate option to litigation or a judge deciding your case. ADR includes divorce mediation. collaborative practice, and out-of-court negotiations and settlements.
What To Know When Considering Mediation
Often, clients think that they have to come to mediation with everything already worked out between them or that it’s not possible for mediation to work for them because they are so far apart in their positions. Thankfully, this isn’t true. Our job as a divorce mediators is to:
- help you reach a fair divorce settlement/agreement by gathering information
- listening to your concerns
- facilitating communication
- and finding common ground within which to solve the problem.
We truly believe that anything can be mediated so long as both parties remain willing to negotiate. Although the topics can undoubtedly be difficult to discuss at times, addressing those topics directly with an experienced and neutral mediator provides long-term benefits to those involved. In addition to our experience in and knowledge of family law, our current real estate practice helps to round out our abilities to:
- mediate matters relating to debts
- the marital residence
- the sale of property
- and other issues that often arise during a divorce
This experience as a family law attorney with real estate experience paves the way for a successful mediation.
What Can Be Worked Out During Divorce Mediation
During divorce mediation, the couple can work out a wide range of issues related to their divorce, including:
Mediation can help the couple to fairly divide their marital property, including assets such as real estate, bank accounts, retirement accounts, and personal property.
Child Custody and Visitation
Mediation can help the couple to develop a co-parenting plan that addresses child custody, visitation, and parenting time. The parenting plan can include details such as holiday schedules, transportation arrangements, and communication protocols.
The mediator can help the couple to determine an appropriate child support amount and structure. This can include discussing how child support payments will be made and when they will be due.
Mediation can help the couple to determine whether spousal support (also known as alimony) is appropriate, and if so, the amount and duration of payments.
Mediation can help the couple to address tax issues related to their divorce, such as how to file taxes and who will claim the children as dependents.
Mediation can help the couple to determine how to divide retirement accounts, such as pensions and 401(k)s, fairly.
Mediation can help the couple to determine how to handle health insurance and other types of insurance coverage after the divorce.
Ultimately, the goal of divorce mediation is to help the couple to reach a mutually acceptable agreement on all of the issues related to their divorce. By working together and focusing on their shared goals, the couple can create a solution that meets their unique needs and circumstances.
How The Divorce Mediation Process Works
Divorce Mediation is the process where parties meet with a divorce mediator to discuss the area of dispute and reach a fair settlement. Divorce mediators act as neutral discussion facilitators in this process. We do not represent either party in this process as their attorney.
Our approach is a combination of:
- evaluative (should the parties request it)
- and facilitative.
Each mediation is different, and the participants require different input from me based on their particular situations and relationship.
The divorce mediation process typically involves the following steps:
The first step is to schedule an initial consultation with a mediator to discuss the divorce process and determine if mediation is a suitable option for the couple. During this consultation, the mediator will also explain the mediation process and answer any questions that the couple may have.
Once the couple agrees to use mediation, they will attend a series of mediation sessions with the mediator. During these sessions, the mediator will help the couple identify and discuss the issues that need to be resolved, such as property division, child custody, and support.
The mediator will facilitate negotiations between the couple to help them reach a mutually acceptable agreement on each issue. The mediator may offer suggestions or propose solutions, but ultimately, the couple will make the final decisions.
Drafting the Agreement
Once the couple reaches an agreement, the mediator will draft a written agreement that reflects their decisions. This agreement will cover all the issues discussed during mediation and will be reviewed by both parties and their respective attorneys.
Submission to Court
After the agreement is reviewed and approved by both parties, it will be submitted to the court for approval. If the court approves the agreement, it will become a legally binding document.
Once the agreement is approved by the court, the divorce is finalized and the terms of the agreement will be enforced.
The Benefits of Choosing Mediation Over Litigated Divorce
The mediation process is often faster and less expensive than litigation. We will meet at times convenient for you and as often as you’d like as opposed to every four to six weeks in a litigation setting. When parties are having a dialogue directly with each other rather than going through their counsel, the conversation moves at a quicker pace, and an agreement can be reached more quickly.
Attorney review of the proposed agreement is a necessary part of this process so that each party has the advice of their counsel before signing this important document.
Most importantly, mediation allows you to make these major life decisions yourself rather than a judge imposing their decisions on your life. I strive to guide my mediation clients through difficult times with understanding and compassion and in a professional yet comfortable atmosphere. I provide my mediation clients with the information necessary to allow them to make informed decisions so that they may successfully navigate this phase of their lives.
Amherst, New York Divorce Mediation FAQs
Divorce mediation has become increasingly popular in recent years as a way for couples to resolve their differences without going to court. It involves a neutral third party who helps the couple negotiate a settlement that works for both parties. However, many people still have questions about the process and how it works.
Q: What is divorce mediation?
A: Divorce mediation is a process in which a neutral third party (the mediator) helps a couple in the process of divorce reach mutually acceptable agreements on various issues related to their divorce, such as property division, child custody and support, and spousal support.
Q: Is mediation required for divorce in New York State?
A: No, mediation is not required by law in New York State, but it is encouraged by the courts.
Q: How long does the mediation process typically take?
A: The length of the mediation process depends on the complexity of the issues and the willingness of the parties to reach an agreement. Some couples are able to reach a settlement in just a few sessions, while others may take several months or more.
Q: Is a mediator a lawyer?
A: No, a mediator does not have to be a lawyer. However, some mediators are lawyers who specialize in family law.
Q: How much does divorce mediation cost in New York State?
A: The cost of mediation can vary depending on the mediator's experience and the complexity of the issues involved. Typically, mediators charge an hourly rate, which can range from $200 to $500 per hour.
Q: Is the mediator's fee shared by both parties?
A: Yes, in most cases, the parties split the cost of the mediator's fee equally.
Q: Can I have an attorney present during mediation?
A: Yes, parties are allowed to have attorneys present during mediation, although it is not required.
Q: Are mediation agreements legally binding?
A: Yes, if both parties agree to the terms reached in mediation, a written agreement can be prepared and submitted to the court for approval. Once approved, the agreement is legally binding and enforceable.
Q: What happens if we cannot reach an agreement in mediation?
A: If the parties are unable to reach an agreement in mediation, they may have to proceed to court for a judge to make decisions on the issues in dispute.
Q: Is mediation confidential?
A: Yes, mediation is confidential. This means that what is said in the mediation sessions cannot be used as evidence in court if the parties are unable to reach an agreement.
Q. Can we mediate if we are already in court?
A. Absolutely. I can enter your contested divorce proceeding with a fresh perspective, give you both an opportunity to be heard and work to get through the impasse holding up the resolution of your divorce.
Q. Can any divorce lawyer be a mediator?
A: Not every divorce lawyer can be a mediator. While some divorce lawyers may also be trained as mediators, being a mediator requires a unique set of skills and training. A mediator should be impartial and neutral, which means they should not provide legal advice or take sides in a dispute. Rather, they should help the parties involved in the divorce to communicate effectively and reach a mutually agreeable solution.
Some lawyers may have specialized training in mediation and may be able to serve as a mediator, but it's important to ensure that they have the necessary qualifications and experience before hiring them as a mediator. If you're considering divorce mediation, it's important to look for a mediator who has received formal mediation training and has experience working in divorce mediation specifically.
Already In Agreement? Try Uncontested Divorce.
If you and your spouse have already reached a complete agreement on the terms of your divorce, you can file for an uncontested divorce. This is typically an appropriate option for couples without children, with no assets in dispute, and parting on amicable terms. Although uncontested divorce is often the fastest and easiest form of divorce, you should still work with an attorney to ensure that you don’t make any mistakes that could cost you extra time, money, or legal headaches. Our firm is ready to help you ensure that your uncontested divorce is smoothly and efficiently resolved.
Contact Us To Discuss Your Options
"A majority of my practice is dedicated to these alternative methods of resolution to find common ground and reach a fair agreement. I have spent many years in litigation divorce and family matters and have seen the division, expense, and stress that litigation can carry with it for the long term. That is why I added divorce mediation to my practice 15 years ago. I have been on the Federal Court mediation panel for the Western District of New York since July 2019." Michelle S. Bullock
Michelle S. Bullock Law & Mediation PLLC is based in Amherst and serves clients throughout Western New York. To arrange a consultation with her call: 716-209-3662 or simply fill out the contact form. Initial consultations for mediation are free.