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Mediation - You Have a Choice
People who are going through a separation or a divorce are often frustrated with the emotional and financial cost of the divorce process. They seek a fair and cost-effective solution that will enable them to get closure. At the same time they want to ensure that someone will adequately address their concerns. The initial choice of process in their family dispute will often determine its outcome.
In the ideal situation, family divorce mediation should always be the first option for separating or divorcing couples. In mediation, an experienced, well-trained neutral mediator helps facilitate a conversation between the parties and, through a series of sessions, helps them reach an agreement which works for their family in a unique way. The partners to a dispute are much more likely to comply with a mediated agreement, which they themselves have negotiated with each other, taking into consideration the unique needs of their family. The statistics on compliance with court verdicts and even settlement agreements reached in court are not nearly as positive.
However, mediation is not a panacea for every family dispute. Sometimes the parties cannot even conceive of coexisting in the same room during negotiations. Even if they can handle it, they may feel that each of them needs a firm ally, - someone who can advocate for them during the negotiation process. They can use lawyers during mediation, but want someone who would actively represent them during each and every negotiation. For those parties, the collaborative divorce process may be more appropriate than the mediation process.
And then again there are other times when the parties are not able to sit in the same room and can't even stand looking at each other. Of course in those circumstances probably neither collaborative divorce nor mediation will work, at least not in the beginning. In such circumstances the traditional divorce process is appropriate, with lawyer-to-lawyer negotiation, if possible, or immediate commencement of a lawsuit.
Although mediation is not a cure-all for every case, in 95% of the cases that I see in my office it should at least be attempted. Even when the parties' first mediation session consists of screaming at each other, it does not necessarily mean that the mediation process would not ultimately succeed. During the alternative dispute resolution process the spouses actually learn how to communicate with each other and they carry this knowledge to their future. At the end of the day their relationship and the way it affects those they love is transformed, and they are better equipped to go on with their lives and effectively co-parent their children post-divorce.
As of October 2010, New York became the final state to enact no-fault divorce. Prior to October 2010, one (1) spouse would have to invoke grounds against the other, such as accusing the other of abandonment or cruel and inhuman treatment; or they could live separate and apart for one (1) year or more based on a written separation agreement filed with the court. There are several different New York Grounds for Divorce.
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