As a divorce lawyer for the regions of Long Island, the surrounding areas and New York, I like to inform my clients that I’m capable of offering them a range of solutions when it comes to dissolving a marriage. While some people will find that litigation is their best option (and I do litigate), others will prefer to access the often time, and cost-effective solution of mediation instead. As a trained mediator, I can offer clients a more collaborative experience when it comes to settling divorce issues. I routinely litigate, as well as settle cases under the more traditional system, which is set up as an adversarial system (ie. Plaintiff versus Defendant). I also work as a mediator or a review attorney for those that choose divorce mediation as their process to dissolve their marriage. Here, I’ll address some of the common questions I encounter about divorce mediation.
Question 1: How Can I get My Spouse to Agree to Mediation?
Often, both spouses need to feel comfortable in a mediation setting for this process to work. As such, my clients often ask me how to convince their spouse to take part in mediation as an alternate source of dispute resolution. Often, I find that the best option is to simply approach the topic from an angle that both of you understand. For instance, if you’re concerned about money, you could acknowledge that mediation is often cheaper than litigation. Alternatively, if you want to defend the children from an emotional process, mediation is often a much calmer approach to divorce.
Question 2: Why Might Divorcing Couples Switch to Mediation?
Litigation can work for some, but it often a frustrating, expensive, and time-consuming process that can be difficult for everyone involved. Some cases might settle quickly, while others take months or years to be resolved, even with the help of experienced divorce lawyers. Moving to mediation can offer a less combative approach to divorce, while making the process move a lot faster. After feeling some pain from the litigation process, sometimes people are then ready for divorce mediation.
Question 3: Can I Prepare for Divorce Mediation?
Mediation is an approach to divorce that can allow for negotiation and collaboration between parties. However, even if you believe that professional mediation is right for you, you could be nervous when approaching the process for the first time. There are several ways you can prepare for mediation, from thinking carefully about the issues you want to address, to organizing financial documents. It’s also important to learn as much as you can about your legal obligations and rights.
Question 4: What is Conflict De-escalation in Mediation?
If a party in a mediation feels as though they’re not being listened to, conflicts can begin to escalate. As an experienced mediator and divorce lawyer, I try to ensure that both parties feel understood by engaging in active listening techniques such as looping. This process of repeating information can help to de-escalate conflict, and ensure that everyone understands exactly what each party has been trying to say. Sometimes taking a break, or have caucus sessions might be a solution.
Question 5: Should I Choose a Divorce Attorney as my Mediator?
Selecting a divorce mediator can be a difficult process. There are divorce mediators out there from almost every background, though not all will be as effective as others. Therapists and financial professionals might work as divorce mediators. Sometimes, divorce attorneys are the best fit to be divorce mediators, because they have experience and knowledge about divorce. Divorce lawyers that also engage in mediation can use different processes and bring their legal experience to the table to try to help resolve disputes.
Question 6: Why are Child Specialists Sometimes Involved in Mediation?
Many valuable experts can sometimes be included in mediation cases. In divorce and child custody matters, a child specialist may be invited to join mediation, as they can help to ease the emotional transition between families, and assist with making decisions regarding parenting times and custody for the child’s best interests.
Question 7: Can Financial Aid Neutrals be Helpful in Mediation?
As a divorce attorney, I frequently find that divorcing couples are uncertain of their financial rights in a divorce. Just as child specialists can assist couples to navigate child-centric cases, financial neutrals can help to offer guidance regarding financial worries. These professionals can answer questions about how both sides in a divorce can make the transition from one, to two households, and maintain financial stability.
Question 8: Can Mediation be Used in High-Conflict Cases?
Couples that are facing a high degree of conflict may not be suitable for mediation circumstances. This is because they’re often unable to communicate with each other in a constructive fashion. However, I have seen some cases wherein mediation has been effective when both parties agree to it. If you do decide to use mediation in a high-conflict case, as always it is important to choose a mediator that you are comfortable with and to be careful to use a review attorney to ensure you’re getting the right deal.
Question 9: What is Mediation by Caucus?
A caucus in the case of family law and divorce refers to private meetings that take place between the mediator and each participant. In some cases, this may be a one-time occurrence, while in others, it’s something that happens throughout the course of the mediation. I believe that separating clients for caucus can be disruptive to the development of empathy within a mediation session. Additionally, caucusing can sometimes make the other party feel as though they’re being “conspired against”. However, I am willing to try different solutions, like caucusing to work through issues. It is not my recommended first approach however.
Question 10: How Do I Do Mediation Right?
Ultimately, making the most of mediation with your divorce mediator is dependent largely on your understanding of the process, and what the benefits of mediation can be. Remember, mediation isn’t a solution for getting you and your ex back together, or eliminating relationship problems. Instead, it’s intended to help you agree about issues that will allow both of you to move on with your lives.
Mediation is a highly flexible process for cases of divorce and family law. Whether you’re addressing equitable distribution, custody arrangements, or visitation, you may find that mediation is a more timely, and cost-effective way to reach a resolution in your case. However, if you’re unsure about the nature of mediation, or you have more questions about what this process could mean for you, please get in touch with me, Mr. Darren M. Shapiro at your earliest convenience.
Couples considering mediation can book a free half-hour consultation with their spouse, either by communicating through our online form, or getting in touch at (516) 333-6555.