Why Divorce Mediation? or My Observations as a Litigator and Mediator
All divorce cases are stressful to a degree. In some cases, the parties are able to cooperate relatively well to resolve the issues and agree to a divorce judgment. Other cases are extremely contentious.
How our team can help
If your divorce case is contentious, it’s our job as attorneys to help you navigate the conflict and reach the best possible result in your case. There are many avenues that we use to accomplish this. We file motions, we speak to witnesses and we gather the evidence that we need to help you reach the right result. We evaluate your case and create a strategy to pursue the avenues that are the most likely to help you achieve your goals and achieve justice.
What is mediation?
One of the pieces of the puzzle in a divorce case is mediation. Mediation is a formal process where both of the parties meet face to face to talk about the issues of the case. The parties talk about all of the issues in the case in one sitting.
Mediation is not the same as trying to talk to your spouse at the dining room table. Mediation is a facilitated process. A trained and experienced mediator guides the process. The mediator has hours of training in how to conduct an effective mediation session. They learn how to keep the parties focused on tasks that are important and likely to resolve the case. They know how to help the parties avoid personal attacks and other distractions that are likely to make the mediation process ineffective.
The mediation process is a guided process that involves working to find common ground. Because there’s a mediation to help with the process, you’re able to work on reaching a resolution without the discomfort of speaking directly to the other party. Your attorney is always present with you at mediation, so you can rest assured that your best interests are always protected.
You don’t have to reach a resolution at mediation. You’re free to take your case to trial. Knowing that you don’t have to sign an agreement at mediation if you don’t want to can help you make the most of your mediation session. You’re free to explore the possibilities to resolve the case without having to agree to anything if you’re not happy with the other side’s proposal.
How can you make mediation effective?
There are things that you can do in order to make your mediation session as effective as possible. In fact, it’s not a good idea to arrive at mediation without some amount of preparation. Thinking through the issues in the case and the things that you need to talk about can help you work to your advantage during your mediation session. Knowing what the issues are can help you compartmentalize and organize the things that you need to talk about.
Preparing to discuss property issues
If there are big-ticket items like a marital home, vehicles, boats, jewelry or financial accounts, the value of these items might be an issue. It’s important to take the time to value these items before you arrive at mediation. If there are wide disagreements on the values of these items, it’s going to make it harder for you to reach a resolution. Your attorney can help you determine what you should do to prepare the evidence for an effective mediation session.
Preparing for custody and parenting time discussions
It’s also important to make a list of your goals for custody. You’ll have some absolutes like you may want a week of sole custody each summer for a vacation. You may want to prevent the other side from exposing the children to someone with substance abuse issues or a criminal record. Other things, like days and times for exchanging children, you may be able to have a bit more flexibility. When you spend time in advance of mediation thinking about what’s most important to you, you can make sure that you address the most important issues during your mediation session.
How can I take advantage of mediation?
During your mediation session, you can rely on your attorney’s experience. They’ve been through many mediation sessions, and they know what works and what can create problems in the future. They can help you identify a settlement proposal that’s workable, and they can also help you steer clear of potential pitfalls.
When each side has an attorney, they have someone to help them understand their case under New York law. If you have a great case for primary custody, it may not make sense to settle for joint custody. If the law affords you an equitable share of the assets, it may not be in your best interests to settle for less. Your attorney can help you decide when the settlement proposal is in line with what a judge might actually do if the case goes to trial. Mediation also allows the parties to create a settlement that’s more detailed and more unique than a judge would likely order at trial.