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What’s Divorce Mediation

Divorce mediation is a process that helps you resolve your differences in a divorce outside of court. The role of divorce mediation is to help the parties reach an agreement to the case without the judge having to rule on the issues involved. Mediation keeps cases out of the court and gives the parties more say in how their case resolves. 

Mediation in a New York divorce

If you’ve begun the process of a divorce in New York or you’ve started thinking about getting divorced, you may have heard the word mediation. You might wonder what mediation is and how to use it to your advantage. Mediation is a process that helps the parties discuss their disagreements in a formal setting. Mediation helps the parties work towards a resolution in a constructive way. 

Is mediation the same thing as just talking to the other side in a divorce?

No, mediation isn’t exactly the same thing as talking directly to the other side in a divorce. A mediation proceeding is a guided process. The courts allow for mediation and structure it based on proven methods for resolving cases. The court isn’t just trying to waste your time and get another case off the docket. Instead, mediation is a proven process for resolving cases in a cost-effective way. It can benefit the parties, and that’s why the courts ask and even order parties to participate in mediation as part of their divorce proceedings. 

What happens in a New York divorce mediation proceeding

If you’ve heard that your case is being sent to mediation, it’s important to understand what to expect from the process. You work with your New York divorce attorneys in order to set up a mutually agreeable date and location for the mediation. A mediator is always trained, and they may be another attorney. Professional training helps the person who runs your mediation to reduce conflict and make the mediation session productive. 

A mediation session usually begins by reviewing the rules for mediation. Common rules involve letting each person finish their thoughts without interrupting. You might also have to agree to confidentiality as part of the mediation process in order to allow the parties to speak their minds freely. 

You might all stay in the same room for mediation. The mediator might also separate the parties and travel from room to room. You have opportunities to caucus with your attorney in order to discuss strategy. 

What happens if we reach an agreement in a divorce mediation?

If you reach an agreement in your divorce mediation, you prepare the paperwork, and you sign it right away. The mediation agreement is enforceable by the court even if you only wrote it out on paper. You can create a cleaner copy for the court to sign later. 

A mediation agreement may resolve only some of the issues in the case. For example, it’s common for a divorce mediation to resolve child custody issues but not property issues. If you’re unable to resolve all of the issues in your case, the parts of the case that you resolve at mediation are enforceable if you sign an agreement. The remaining issues can still proceed to trial. If you don’t resolve any issues in your case, you simply proceed to trial on all of the issues as though the mediation session had never happened. 

How do you make mediation productive in a New York divorce case?

There are things that you can do in order to set yourself up for success at mediation. First, one of the key jobs of your attorney is to help you understand the strengths and weaknesses of your case under the law. If you know that you’re likely to win primary physical custody if your case goes to trial, you can hold firm on the custody issue during mediation. The more you know about where you sit on the law, the more likely you are to come out of mediation with an agreement that fairly represents your interests. 

It’s also important to consider what your absolute wants are in the divorce and where you can be flexible. For example, it might be very important for you that the children live with you primarily and continue to attend the same schools. However, you may be able to be more flexible when it comes to spring break or summer break parenting time. One of the benefits of mediation is that it allows the parties to make creative agreements that the court doesn’t typically order. With the right mindset, mediation can be a productive way to resolve your New York divorce case.

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