Divorce is often one of life’s greatest stressors and the goal in a mediated or collaborative divorce process is to achieve a more peaceful, calm, divorce process that is focused on support at this difficult time. Mediation and the collaborative divorce process are generally faster, more amicable, and more cost-effective alternative dispute resolution processes than litigation.
If you seek a calmer and less stressful or costly manner in which to separate or divorce, mediation may be the best option for you and your family. Mediators have your best interest in mind, and unlike the courts, they can help you and your spouse come to a mutually agreeable solution.
In this article, we will discuss the following:
- Understanding What Mediation, Litigation, and Collaborative Divorce Are
- What Is Divorce Mediation?
- What Is a Collaborative Divorce?
- What Is Divorce Litigation?
- How Long Does Each Approach Take?
- 5 Key Benefits of Mediation and Why It’s a Preferable Approach
- How Our New York Mediators Can Help
Understanding What Mediation, Litigation, and Collaborative Divorce Are
There are pros and cons to mediation, litigation, and collaborative divorce. However, mediation can help you and your family find common ground and make a decision based on your unique needs without an audience of judges and lawyers. Whatever your family’s needs may be, our compassionate and skilled team at New York Divorce Mediation Group can help you.
First, we will discuss the differences between three options for divorce or legal separation: mediation, a collaborative process divorce and litigation. Each approach’s timetable depends on various factors, which will also be listed below.
What Is Divorce Mediation?
In divorce mediation, a neutral third-party (the mediator) helps you negotiate and find a common resolution for you and your spouse or partner. The mediator doesn’t have the decision making role, so it’s between you and your spouse or partner to come to a resolution, with the guidance and support of a trained mediator. Mediation is also the most informal, flexible, time saving, and inexpensive option compared to litigation and collaborative divorce. During divorce mediation, there is no obligation to hire a lawyer or other adviser, but there is always the option to do so if either partner wishes to do so.
What Is a Collaborative Divorce?
During this type of divorce process, spouses are represented by collaborative attorneys. The spouses and attorneys sign a “no court” participation agreement. Attorneys may recommend involving collaborative professionals, such as a family support specialists or a financial neutral and this approach is also more informal and usually much more flexible than litigation. Attorneys must withdraw if the case goes to court. Spouses and attorneys negotiate in “four-way” meetings (or five-way or six-way meetings if other professionals are involved).
What Is Divorce Litigation?
Litigation is a legal term essentially meaning taking legal action. When parties choose to litigate, they are often subjecting themselves to a potentially costly and drawn-out divorce process. Also, litigation can be mentally and emotionally draining on everyone involved, especially if you have children. Litigation can often bring out negative emotions and behaviors due to a win-lose mentality fostered during this process. Often this more contentious approach can cause more conflict between family members. Litigation can be very unpredictable and could take years to complete.
Divorce mediation is a more affordable and amenable alternative to litigation, and it works toward settling your case without ever going to trial or court. Unlike litigation attorneys, the mediator’s goal is to not to foster the win-lose approach, but to help find your family a solution. The mediator looks at your documents and listens carefully to what both parties have to say about concerns, fears and needs in their particular and unique situation. Mediators also help facilitate conversations about the most agreeable option for both parties instead of having a judge make a decision that is legally binding and could conceivably achieve a result that neither spouse or partner seeks.
How Long Does Each Approach Take?
Divorce Mediation – The timeline for mediation is more flexible because the spouses determine the timetable, whereas with litigation, the judge and court proceedings determine the timetable. Depending on your case, a mediation matter typically takes a few sessions, usually between two and five sessions, depending on the complexity of issues and how much needs to be discussed. The parties can schedule appointments at their own convenience, depending on work schedules and child care availability, if children are involved. All parties attend the full mediation session, and there are breaks, as needed, throughout the session.
Collaborative Divorce –More efficient and usually less expensive than litigation, collaborative divorce also lets you take more control of the process than with litigation and court meetings. During collaboration, there are two lawyers involved who need to coordinate schedules as do any other neutrals involved in the case, which might make the process somewhat more time consuming than mediation.
Litigation –Litigation makes the divorce process more lengthy because of it follows more court imposed regulations and timelines. In addition, when lawyers and a judge get involved, there are more people who have influence over the timeline. Litigation can often result in a long, drawn-out divorce that can last years.
5 Key Benefits of Divorce Mediation and Why It’s a Quicker Approach
Each benefit of divorce mediation ultimately affects the timeline of the divorce process. When you have more control over the process itself and the courts aren’t as involved, this can drastically reduce the length of the divorce.
Here are five key benefits of mediation, which may ultimately influence the length of time a divorce can take.
1. Flexibility and control over the process – Mediation is flexible and gives you and your spouse or partner more control over the process. You are not required to have additional professionals or other attorneys actively involved in your divorce process, but the choice is completely up to you. The only people who are usually involved in the process are you, your spouse or partner, and a non-biased mediator or non-biased co-mediators. At the New York Divorce Mediation Group our mediators are attorneys and are also trained in family dynamics or as licensed therapists.
2. Efficiency and cost savings – Mediation is a cost-effective alternative to litigation and usually less costly than the collaborative model. For example, coordinating the calendars of at least four people—you, your spouse, and both of your attorneys—can be time-consuming and costly. Also, at least two actively participating attorneys can increase legal fees considerably.
3. Civility – Civility is a critical part of the mediation process. Mediation depends on spouses agreeing with the support of the mediator. Mediation guides and is predicated on the principle that each party remain civil and respectful during the divorce process so that each party can have his or her voice heard respectfully.
4. Privacy and confidentiality – Mediation allows you and your spouse or partner to have more privacy during the divorce process. There aren’t any court rooms, court personnel or other attorneys or litigants watching your every move. During mediation, your conversations are private, and you and your spouse can discuss your conflicts openly without concern for privacy or confidentiality.
5. Lawyers – Most mediation situations do not require parties to get their own separate legal counsel for consultation or review of agreements prepared, but that is always an option at any time during the process. Mediation is specifically designed to help people work through conflicts without a judge or time consuming and costly legal proceedings. Not only are our mediators at New York Divorce Mediation Group trained divorce mediators, but they are also licensed attorneys.
How Our New York Divorce Mediators Can Help
Mediators act as neutral third parties who creates a safe space for effective, open dialogue between spouses or partners during a separation or divorce. Divorce is often an emotional process for everyone involved, but mediation can help the process proceed with more ease and calm.
Our team at New York Divorce Mediation Group has extensive experience in divorce law, family law, and counseling. Mediators at NYDMG are sensitive, empathetic, and understanding, and we are always prepared to help you resolve any issues regarding your legal separation or divorce in a calm, safe environment. Some of the issues we help resolve include:
Division of Marital Property
Spousal Support (Maintenance)
Parenting Plans for Children, including Custody Issues
Whatever legal issue your family may be facing, our mediators at New York Divorce Mediation Group can help you find a solution that is agreeable for you and your spouse or partner.
Call Us Today for a Free Consultation for Divorce Mediation in New York
Our team at New York Divorce Mediation Group has years of experience helping separating or divorcing couples find a solution that suits them and their needs. We will guide you to an equitable resolution of your divorce or separation with the quality service, compassion, and support you deserve. You can call us at (516) 788-7352 to schedule a no-obligation, confidential consultation or contact us online today.