For many couples, divorce is an emotionally difficult process. Discussions of topics like property division, child custody, and alimony can quickly escalate into a full-blown conflict.
Working with an experienced New York divorce mediator can help you find a more cooperative way to resolve disputes. Let’s look at what mediation is, how long it takes, and why it’s almost always preferable to divorce litigation.
In divorce mediation, a professionally trained mediator sits down together with both parties and helps them negotiate solutions to key issues that a divorce settlement must cover, such as the division of marital assets and debts, a parenting plan, child support, and possibly spousal support. The goal of mediation is to reach a mutually acceptable settlement agreement.
With the right approach, mediation can:
Give you a higher level of control and privacy. If your divorce ends in the courtroom, you’ll have to abide by the judge’s decisions, which may not suit one or both of you.
Speed up the divorce process. On average, mediated divorces get resolved in several months, while a litigated divorce case may take years.
Preserve relationships. If you have children, mediation can help you keep an amicable relationship with your co-parent. This is important regardless of the age of your children.
How Long Does Mediation Take?
Divorce mediation is an individualized process that doesn’t conform to a one-size-fits-all mold. Mediation may require two sessions or ten sessions spread out over several months, depending on:
- The type of issues the separating couple needs to resolve
- The willingness of both spouses to cooperate
- The experience, skill, and strategy of the mediators
- How long each session lasts
Does mediation always work? Occasionally, mediation may fail, especially if one or both spouses are unwilling to compromise or make unreasonable demands. However, in almost all cases, mediation helps divorcing couples reduce friction and come up with solutions that work for both sides.
A Breakdown of the Mediation Process
So what, exactly, happens during divorce mediation? Let’s take a look at how a typical mediation process works.
The mediation process starts with a session during which the spouses bring up all the divorce-related issues they haven’t been able to work out on their own, like property division, child custody, or spousal support. The mediator will promote healthy communication (e.g., no raised voices) and work to keep the exchange productive.
Depending on the family’s needs, follow-up mediation sessions may cover several unresolved issues or focus on a single topic, like what happens to the family home or how the parents will share time with the children during vacations and holidays.
The mediator will use their skills to help both sides understand each other’s perspectives and propose practical, realistic, and fair compromises. The sessions may also include the attorneys representing each spouse and, in some cases, independent experts like child specialists, business appraisers, and divorce financial specialists.
On average, a mediation session will last 2 hours, although individual sessions may be shorter or longer. If tensions are running high, it may make sense to take a break and continue on a different day once both sides have had time to reflect.
Do You Still Need a Divorce Lawyer If You Go for Mediation?
Here’s one important point to keep in mind as you prepare for mediation: Even if your mediator is also a lawyer, they’re not representing you. A mediator must stay neutral and promote the interests of both sides equally.
In contrast, a mediation consulting attorney is a legal professional who has your back and protects your rights. A consulting attorney can help you understand the terms of your settlement, support your goals, and improve your chances of reaching an acceptable agreement.
Finalizing the Settlement Agreement
Once the divorcing spouses have resolved all core issues, the mediator will draft the divorce agreement, also known as a Marital Settlement Agreement. Then each side will review a copy of the agreement with their own attorney and propose edits if necessary. This step typically takes a couple of weeks.
While mediation is a voluntary process, a signed settlement agreement is a legally binding document just like a court order, so you want to make sure a competent family law attorney reviews your agreement and provides feedback before you sign it.
As soon as both spouses sign the divorce agreement, they are legally separated. If a decision is made to move forward with a divorce, the party’s attorneys can draft the necessary paperwork and submit those documents to the court with a signed copy of the settlement agreement. This step of the process may take anywhere between three and twelve months, depending on the New York county where you’re filing. Regardless of the county,
Your divorce will be finalized without the stress, expense, and exposure of a divorce trial. Down the road, you may also opt for post-divorce mediation to resolve any future issues, like the need to adjust a parenting schedule or child support amounts.
Why You Need a Skilled New York Divorce Mediator
The competence and experience of your divorce mediator may determine the outcome of the mediation process. A skilled, empathetic mediator will know what solutions may work in your specific situation and how to propose them in a way that will be acceptable to both sides.
At Vacca Family Law Group, we have helped many divorcing couples successfully navigate mediation thanks to:
- Trained and talented attorney mediators
- Efficient, collaborative strategies custom-tailored to each case
- A combination of empathy, professionalism, and integrity
- An out-of-the-box approach that helps us achieve amicable divorce solutions
Vacca Family Law Group: Efficient Mediation in New York City
Are you preparing for divorce? At Vacca Family Law Group, we help divorcing couples circumvent conflicts, stay sane, and save money by providing skilled mediation services.
Keep disagreements from blowing up into an exhausting courtroom battle. Call our law firm at 646-491-8818 or reach out online to discuss working with one of our knowledgeable New York City divorce mediators.