There are spouses who wonder whether they need a mediator to help them with a divorce, or whether they can do it on their own. You can go to ‘do-it-yourself’ divorce websites online and create an agreement that you can file in court. Do I recommend it? The reality is that there is so much at stake in terms of the future financial stability of each party and the needs of any minor children of the marriage, that as an experienced mediator I would not recommend it.
The lack of knowledge of applicable laws and factors considered by the courts in determining the terms of a divorce can leave critical details unaddressed. Very few people who don’t work in the field have an accurate understanding of NY State’s Equitable Distribution and Child and Spousal Support standards and calculations and how they are applied. The filing process itself must be done properly.
But even beyond those major areas, there are many other things that should be addressed in order to avoid future conflict or hardship. Can either of you really afford to keep the house? Are you covering support payments with life insurance or other assets? Do you understand the tax implications of different assets, debts and support? If you have children, what if one of you wants to move away from the area? How will you handle new relationships parents may have and how it will effect the children? Who pays for children’s medical insurance, non-covered medical expenses and daycare?
The list of things that go into creating a solid divorce agreement is lengthy, and while your desire to be amicable is of great benefit to everyone in the family, the reality is, that without a mediator providing you with information and helping you have some conversations about what will really work best for each of your future lives, you may forfeit your legal rights or end up with an agreement that causes financial hardship, or simply doesn’t serve you and your children well in the future.