What Is Divorce Mediation?
Divorce mediation in Westchester County, provides a confidential, non-adversarial and cost-effective alternative to traditional divorce litigation. In mediation, instead of you and your spouse having hiring your own attorneys and immediately filing for divorce in court, you meet privately and informally with a neutral attorney-mediator to discuss the issues that need to be resolved in your divorce, such as equitable distribution (property division), maintenance (alimony), custody and child support. The goal of divorce mediation is for you and your spouse to reach a settlement that is fair and mutually favorable to both of you without ever having to set foot into a courtroom.
Mediated divorces will save you time and money. They are much less expensive and stressful than litigated divorces and allow you to maintain the privacy and control over the outcome that you would not otherwise have in traditional courtroom litigation.
That is especially true for divorce litigation in New York, including Westchester County, which has its own unique set of court rules that can be difficult to understand, time-consuming to navigate and the court procedure itself can often be an unnecessary source of stress for divorcing couples. An overview of the court rules for litigating a divorce in Westchester County can be found here.
How Does Divorce Mediation Work in Westchester County, NY?
The divorce mediation process starts with an initial consultation in the attorney-mediator’s office. The purpose of the initial consultation is for you to meet informally with the attorney-mediator, ask questions and learn more about the mediation process. You and your spouse will have the opportunity to briefly discuss your situation with the attorney-mediator. Based on your individual circumstances, the attorney-mediator will make recommendations as to how to best proceed and, in the case of SnapDivorce, will determine a fixed-price mediation fee, which will include all costs associated with mediating and processing the divorce paperwork through the court.
If mediation is the right fit for your case, you and your spouse and the attorney-mediator will sign a mediation agreement in which you agree to mediate your divorce. You can learn how to determine if mediation is the right choice for you.
Once the mediation fee is paid, the attorney-mediator may ask you to provide relevant documentation such as financial statements, custody schedules, budgets and any other information that will be helpful for the attorney-mediator to review in advance of the first mediation session. If you want to know more, you can learn how to prepare for divorce mediation.
Depending on the complexity of the case, you will meet with the attorney-mediator in his or her office for one to four confidential mediation sessions, each lasting between one and two hours, with the goal to reach a fair settlement of the issues of your divorce. During the mediation sessions, the attorney-mediator helps you and your spouse identify the issues that need to be resolved and you will both have the opportunity to discuss your concerns, priorities and goals for the mediation. Based on you and your spouse’s individual goals, the attorney-mediator will guide the conversation to focus on the issues that need to be resolved and will facilitate meaningful, constructive discussions in order to reach an agreement that is mutually beneficial to both you and your spouse.
The role of the attorney-mediator is not to be the ultimate decision-maker, rather it is to keep you focused on the relevant issues, minimize hostile or non-productive discussion and to provide guidance and suggestions to the you and your spouse to allow you to reach a solutions that work for you and your family. While the attorney-mediator is a neutral and does not represent either side or give legal advice to you or your spouse, all SnapDivorce attorney-mediators are also practicing attorneys, which allows them provide you with a legal prospective of how similar issues are resolved in court which may provide a framework for negotiation and help to facilitate compromise.
After the mediation session, the attorney-mediator will send you and your spouse a memorandum of understanding (“MOU”) summarizing the topics discussed at the mediation, any agreements reached and any outstanding issues that need to be covered at the next mediation session. Once you have come to an agreement on all of the relevant issues, the attorney mediator will draft a Stipulation of Settlement (settlement agreement). The Stipulation of Settlement will be circulated via email for you and your spouse to review and sign.
Once the Stipulation of Settlement is signed by both parties, SnapDivorce, through a partner law firm, will process the divorce paperwork through the court system. You will be officially divorced once the court signs off on the Judgment of Divorce, which usually takes approximately 3-6 months.
To learn more, please review our frequently asked questions about divorce mediation.