Going through a divorce is an emotional time. For many couples, paying the cost of high attorney fees often associated with divorce is not a logical option. Mediating your divorce may be the smarter option.
So, what can you expect from mediation proceedings? In many cases, your divorce will not be resolved with the first mediated session. However, the first mediation meeting will be the meeting that sets the foundation for ultimately achieving your goal; getting divorced. In the first session of the divorce mediation, the divorce mediator will commonly restate the previously stated goals of each party. As primarily an information gathering session, the mediator may ask for clarification on issues pertaining to your property, assets and even children. Following an overview of your divorce issues and goals, the divorce mediator will then proceed to explain some of the basic laws as they pertain to your divorce and the jurisdiction in which you reside.
The divorce mediator will commonly take the time to explain how divorce can be achieved and what issues and concerns can, and can not, be accommodated under the State’s family law provisions. As with the first mediation sessions, and all subsequent mediation sessions, the mediator will serve as a guide to assist both couples with staying on track, working towards an opportunity to reach satisfactory goals while considering the options of both parties involved.
Once you and your spouse have agreed to Mediation as a means to settle your divorce, you will schedule an appointment for your free consultation. In this appointment, I will explain the rules of divorce in New York, how Mediation fits into the picture and the timeline of the process. The next step is signing your Mediation Retainer Agreement as well as your Client Bill of Rights. The former spells out the financial terms of our interaction and the latter highlights what you can expect in terms of service. I will send you home with a packet outlining the documents that you will need to submit before your next Mediation date.
Typically, the Mediation process will consist of 1-2 one hour sessions without children and 3-6 sessions with children in the equation. The sessions may last more than an hour, depending on the cooperation between you and your spouse, as well as the availability of time. We will continue to schedule new sessions if unresolved issues remain to be discussed. The speed of the Mediation really depends on how forthcoming the parties are with information and how willing they are to delve into the issues at hand. Billing is done by the hour, so the cost of the Mediation is up to you.
The end result of the Mediation is manifested by either a Separation Agreement or a Stipulation of Settlement, depending on what the parties are seeking. All final documents will first be approved and then signed by both parties. The signed and notarized legal document will be filed with the Clerk of the appropriate county or Court. In the case of the Separation Agreement, you and your spouse will have to abide by the terms of this Agreement for one calendar year, at which time the Separation Agreement can be turned into the final Divorce Decree. This is a tried and true process with a clear end in sight. The one year clock starts with the filing of the Separation Agreement.