by Bruce Provda
Why Couples Are Choosing Mediation in Divorce Cases
Divorces are stressful and can cause also sorts of emotional and physical problems ranging from headaches, anxiety, depression, panic attacks, disruption of sleep patterns, psychosomatic illnesses, back aches and other ailments. The finality and realization that a marriage is over hits everyone differently and everyone reacts to divorce in their own way. Experts compare divorce to a death and the bereavement stages of anger, fear, loss, sadness and healing that accompany death. Even if you are the one who initiates the divorce, you still may have unresolved emotional issues about ending the marriage that surface during the divorce negotiations or later.
Anger and disappointment are common feelings that may arise during divorce negotiations. In fact, many times the parties have a hard time communicating with each other about settling divorce issues such as division of property, child custody, visitation and spousal and child support issues. Besides seeking the support of family, friends and profession advice, a number of couples are opting for divorce mediation to resolve their divorce issues in order to avoid the stress of a costly and lengthy divorce trial.
Choosing a Mediator?
The mediator is a neutral third party. Both parties must agree to hire to act as their mediator in their divorce. The mediator may or may not be an attorney. The important thing to remember when hiring a mediator is that you want someone who has experience in mediating divorces. While mediation is less expensive than going to trial, mediator services vary so it is a good idea to interview a few mediators and then choose the one that you think is best suited for the job. Ask for references. If you are working with a divorce attorney, your attorney can recommend a mediator, or you can get a list from the court, legal aid, the local State Bar association, by checking with Mediate.com or a friend or family member who may have used a mediator in their divorce.
How Does Mediation Work?
The initial consultation meeting with the mediator is held at the mediator’s office generally in a conference room. At the initial meeting, the mediator will explain the mediation process and have both parties sign a mediation agreement. If you are represented by our own family law attorney, you can consult with the attorney. However, generally, family law attorneys do not attend mediation conferences. Anything that you say in mediation is kept confidential and does not get included in the public court records. Typically, the two parties share the costs of the mediation fee. Any variations can be decided by the parties on their own.
The mediator acts as a facilitator to try and help the parties resolve their divorce issues. The mediator does not decide or rule on the issues like a judge. It is up to the parties themselves to come to an agreement. The mediator will help by making suggestions or helping the parties determine if additional information needs to be provided by one of the parties. Mediation may involve more than one session if the parties are unable to decide all the issues at one time. Mediation works best when the parties are open to suggestions and compromise. So mediation may not be for everyone, especially if one party is hostile towards the other party or the parties refuse to speak to one another.
Once the parties have reached a negotiated settlement, either the mediator will draw up the settlement agreement or one of the attorneys representing the parties. If both parties are represented by attorneys, then it is a good idea for each party to have their respective attorney review the agreement before they sign it. The mediator will submit the agreement to the court, and it can be entered as part of the final divorce decree.
Why Choose Mediation?
Understanding how mediation works is important because it also explains why more couples choose mediation over going to trial. Mediation is quicker, less expensive and private. There is no stress of having to face a judge in a formal courtroom setting and talk about your personal financial issues and your personal family life. Whatever is said at mediation, stays at mediation. It is confidential, unlike a court hearing where testimony is put into public record and anyone can come in and sit down and listen to you and soon to be ex-spouse fighting over your divorce issues. You have control over decisions without the court intervening.
The courts favors divorce mediation and prefers that couples use alternative dispute resolution such as mediation because it frees up the court calendar to hear more pressing and urgent family law matters on other cases such as temporary restraining orders and temporary support, visitation and custody matters.
If you are contemplating a divorce or having trouble settling divorce issues with your spouse, mediation might be the best choice for you and your spouse to settle your divorce issues in a more amicable fashion with less stress on you and other family members, including your children. Remember that divorce also takes a toll on children and affects other family members including your pets. Being able to settle issues quickly helps children and other family members adjust to the situation as well.
Bruce Provda became an attorney in New York back in the 1970s. Bruce is a graduate of Long Island University and subsequently, of the Hofstra University School of Law. He is a member of the New York Bar City Association as well as the Brooklyn Bar Association, Family Law Section. Provda is a family law and divorce veteran. Whether you need a firmly grounded attorney for domestic violence, asset distribution following the breakdown of your relationship, deciding on the custody of the children, Bruce Provda is on hand to provide you with specialist advice from a wealth of knowledge gathered and constantly renewed over the last four decades.