Mediation is a cooperative process in which you and your spouse will work with a neutral third party, a mediator, to come to your own agreement on all issues that must be decided. These may include child custody, parenting schedules, equitable distribution of assets, awards of spousal maintenance and child support, and others.
The mediation process for separation or divorce answers all the same questions and resolves all the decisions that you would in a litigated divorce that goes to court. Couples work together with a mediator to reach agreements regarding parenting issues and schedules, financial issues such as child support, division of property, spousal maintenance, tax implications and others. These decisions are put into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) by the mediator. The MoU summarizes the agreements reached by the parties in meditation, and can be reviewed by an attorney and incorporated into a legal document for separation or divorce. The process encourages empowerment by the involved parties to create an agreement that works best for their specific situation. Every family and couple is different.
Compared to the traditional litigated separation/divorce process
- Less expensive -- The cost of a mediated separation or divorce is estimated to be 25-40 percent of the cost of an adversarial separation or divorce.
- Less time-consuming -- A typical mediated separation or divorce can be accomplished in four to eight weeks. The mediation process proceeds at the pace you set.
- Less emotionally difficult -- Rather than working against each other, you and your spouse will be working cooperatively toward an agreement that is equitable to both of you. This will preserve your ability to work together in the future as parenting partners if you have children, and reduce the residual resentment and anger that usually accompany the win-lose litigation process.
- More dignified -- Mediation strives to protect the self-esteem and the dignity of all parties. Rather than looking back to assign blame, mediation looks to the future and enables both of you to begin your new lives in full control of the outcome.
The Mediation Process
- Initial intake – Lasts about an hour. Informational, no commitment ($75)
- Divorce/Separation Mediation is generally, 3-4 sessions, 1 ½ - 2 hours each (can be more or less depending on individual circumstances)
Three main areas to resolve for Divorce and Separation Mediation:
Parenting: (if you have Children)
Legal custody, physical residency, weekly schedule, holidays, vacations
Division of property: Assets and liabilities
NYS requires you disclose all facts (income from all sources, assets including; real estate, businesses, retirement, etc. and all debt; mortgages, student loans, co-signed loans, personal loans, credit cards, etc.)
NYS standard is Equitable (many couples trade off assets/liabilities)
Child (NYS Child Support Standards)
Spousal (Temporary and Post-Divorce)
- Writing of Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, is billed between 3-4 hours. NYS requires an agreement in writing for a separation or divorce.
- Review of MoU or other agreement- approximately 1 hour
- MoU is given to each party for review by their respective attorneys. The attorneys’ then work together to complete the filings with the court.
- Payment is per session. Payment is due at the end of each session. Session cost is on a sliding scale based on the parties combined income.
- Communication must be known to all parties to avoid implication of non-impartiality. Emails must be copied to all parties involved.
- Substantially fair agreements
- Informed choices and decision making