Different people approach divorce from different angles. While some are limited to litigation, others will prefer to explore alternative solutions like collaborative law and mediation. I offer mediation to couples as a way of helping them to sort through the various issues that commonly arise during a divorce or separation. As a mediator, I try to ensure that the discussion is calm, constructive, and open, so that both parties are able to have their say. Because of this, mediation is often seen as a very flexible process, and it can be used to address matters regarding children, visitation, and custody rights, or consider concerns about the financial side of dissolving a marital relationship.
Using divorce mediation properly is all about understanding what you’re getting involved with, what the benefits are, and who you need to be in contact with. It’s important to remember that mediation isn’t there to deal with your relationship problems or get you back together, but instead assist you in agreeing on the issues that will allow you and your ex-partner to move on with your separate lives.
Finding the right Divorce Mediators
Finding the right mediator is important in ensuring that your mediation process goes smoothly. Generally, searching for the right mediator means finding someone that both spouses feel comfortable with. This might involve visiting the mediator in person, which is why I offer a free half-hour consultation appointments to help people determine whether they feel comfortable that I am able to help them through their divorce process. Finding the mediator that’s right for you also means looking for someone who has training and experience in their practice.
In order for mediators to be certified, they must go through a training process that helps them to understand the techniques used to promote negotiation and non-biased communication during a mediation session. A trained mediator, like myself, knows the various issues that need to be addressed during a divorce, such as equitable distribution, matters to do with maintenance and support, and other concerns. He, or she, will discuss legal concerns such as the grounds for the divorce, and couples to come to agreements about things like parenting time and visitation, child custody, and the distribution of debt and assets.
Finding a Drafting Attorney
Choosing the perfect mediator isn’t the only concern to think about when you’re approaching mediation as your solution for the divorce process. You will also need to engage the services of a drafting attorney. Although I personally act as a mediator, collaborative lawyer, and divorce attorney, it’s worth remembering that not all of the divorce mediators out there are lawyers. Some will be mental health professionals that have undergone specialist training. Other mediators might be financial planners that are looking for new ways to help clients, and others still may come from different walks of life entirely.
If you access the assistance of a non-lawyer for your mediation process, then you will need to involve a lawyer in the drafting process, where you outline the terms of your settlement agreement, and uncontested divorce papers. This lawyer will be responsible for getting everything done on paper in regard to what you and your ex-partner agree on, so that the divorce can be moved legally through the court system in New York, and lead to a judgement of divorce. With this in mind, it’s worth remembering that if your mediator isn’t a lawyer, you may need to make sure that they have connections with lawyers that they can put you in contact with so that you have access to the right drafting attorney.
Using a Review Attorney
In certain cases, some people may choose to use their review attorney to do the drafting for their divorce mediation process. In these circumstances, however, the drafter will not be a neutral party, because they will have assumed the role of legal advisor for one of the spouses. Because of this matter, I personally believe in using a neutral drafting attorney. In cases when I conduct a divorce mediation, I can also act as the neutral drafting attorney for the couples. This is because I am neutral as a mediator, and can remain so when all of the issues involved in the divorce have been settled, and the parties want to continue with the drafting process.
When it comes to review attorneys, I follow the recommendation of the model rules for mediators. In other words, I suggest that parties use review attorneys. The purpose of a review attorney in a divorce procedure is to make certain that each party within the mediation understands the rights that are available to them, what they’re signing, and what they have agreed upon. Review attorneys can also offer advice to parties in need. Not everyone I work with will follow my advice to engage the help of review attorneys, because they may feel that they have educated themselves enough to proceed without help, or they want to save on expenses. However, since this blog is all about mediation done right, I believe that it’s important to outline that review attorneys can help parties to access the gold standard of mediation
Your Divorce Mediation
Divorce mediation is a flexible and cost-effective solution for divorce that allows parties to come to an agreement about their futures themselves. Unlike in litigation, which can be difficult for all parties involved, mediation places the clients in the driving seat, empowering them to gather all of the information that they need, discuss different options, and come to decisions that each side can live with. Whereas the courts make the decisions for you in litigation, you make your own choices in mediation, and this can be the right step forward for many couples.
If you’re interested in discussing divorce mediation further, you can contact me, Mr. Darren M. Shapiro, for your free, initial, half-hour consultation for you and your spouse together. Either get in touch with us through our handy online contact form, or feel free to call at 516-333-6555.