FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
WHAT IS DIVORCE MEDIATION?
HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE?
WHAT IS THE COST?
Of course, every situation involves different issues. For that reason, cost is generally a function of time, and the fee will be commensurate with the time it takes for the two of you to conclude an agreement, and with the level of complexity of that agreement. During the initial free consultation, after your mediator has an opportunity to meet with the two of you and to get a sense of the complexity of the issues involved, he or she will be able to give you an estimate of cost.
WILL I BE LEFT WITH A LEGALLY BINDING AGREEMENT?
DO WE OWE IT TO OUR CHILDREN?
But your relationship with your children as their common parents is not. All of the studies on the effects of divorce on children have come to the same conclusion. It is not the fact of your divorce that will do permanent damage to your children. It is how you go about it. Did the two of you sit down in a common effort to address the issues that your divorce left you with and to make as much sense of it as you could? Or did you go to war over it, your and your attorney’s only object being to get as much as you could and to give as little as you have to?
Yes, you owe it to your children not to go to war.
WHAT IF I’M NOT HAPPY WITH MEDIATION?
The same is not true with an adversarial divorce proceeding, however. To be sure, you may have all of the power to start it. However, once it has begun, it takes on a life of its own. Moreover, rather than being the principal players, as you will be in divorce mediation, the two of you will be but bit players from the sidelines of the drama that you have set in motion.
As those who have turned to adversarial legal proceedings will tell you, you will literally have no control over those proceedings. On the contrary, it will become like a runaway train, and it will be almost impossible for either of you to stop it.
The question that you really should be asking yourself, therefore, is what you will do if you are not happy with the adversarial divorce proceedings that you have set in motion? Unfortunately, since you will have lost all control of those proceedings once you have started them, there is no answer to that question. That is very frightening.
HOW DO I CHOOSE A MEDIATOR?
How then should you choose a divorce mediator? There are a number of things that you should consider.
- What is the professional background of the mediator in question that qualifies him or her? What is the quality of their education and previous experience? How long have they been engaged in the practice of divorce mediation? How many cases have they handled?
- Is the person engaged in the practice of divorce mediation on a full time or part time basis? In other words, is divorce mediation something that he (or she) does “on the side” or is it his principal vocation?
- What services does the mediator provide? Divorce mediation consists of three things: helping a couple conclude an agreement; preparing their agreement and seeing to its execution; and, finally, getting them a divorce. Most mediators do not and can not help a couple do all three of these things, however. That can substantially increase the time and the cost to complete the process.
- What is the divorce mediator’s reputation in the community?
- How comfortable do you feel with the mediator? Do you feel that he or she is intelligent and knowledgeable, and conducts him or herself in a professional manner? Do you feel comfortable and secure in his or her presence? Does he or she strike you as a caring person? Does he or she instill confidence in you?
Without question, there will be another consideration in your mind, as well. That is cost. Money is important, particularly now that you are separating. Nevertheless, you must be careful. Divorce mediation takes a great deal of knowledge, skill and experience.
As in most professions, not all divorce mediators are the same. Rather, their ability varies tremendously. So don’t be fooled into thinking that it doesn’t make any difference who you use. It does. Just as you would want the best divorce lawyer to represent you were you to turn to adversarial legal proceedings, you want the best divorce mediator to assist you if you turn to mediation.
WHAT ARE THE GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE UNDER NEW YORK DIVORCE LAW?
- Cruel and inhuman treatment (fault based)
- Abandonment (fault based)
- Imprisonment (fault based)
- Adultery (fault based)
- Living separate and apart by judicial separation judgment or decree (separation based)
- Living separate and apart by separation agreement(separation based)
- Irretrievable breakdown (no-fault divorce)
These are references in Domestic Relations Law Section 170.