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Frequently Asked Questions About Divorce Mediation
Why Should I Consider Mediation?
Mediation allows separating and divorcing couples to take control of planning their own futures. It is especially beneficial for parents, who though separating, will need to continue making joint decisions about their children well into the future. The decision making process learned in mediation can serve as a model for future communications. Also, mediated settlements have a consistently higher compliance rate because the husband and wife have created their own agreement.
How Does Mediation Work?
The couple meets with an impartial, non-judgmental mediator who helps them identify and explore various options as they clarify their interests and negotiate a settlement. The mediator works to maintain a balance of power during the process and when all decisions have been made, draws up a memorandum of understanding describing the settlement. This is generally taken to an attorney to be incorporated into a legal separation agreement and then filed with the county court for final judgment.
How Long Does It Take and What Will It Cost?
The complexity of the situation and the willingness of the individuals to be flexible as they pursue a fair agreement dictates the length and cost of the mediation. An average mediation may take around five sessions of two hours each, though this can vary from case to case; couples can expect to pay somewhere between $1,000 and $3,000 for a mediation of that length although individual mediators' fees vary. Fees are generally shared equally by the husband and wife.
Will My Legal Rights be Protected?
It is always advisable that both parties show the memorandum of understanding to their attorneys to ensure protection of rights. It is also appropriate to consult with outside experts such as accountants, realtors, financial planners and attorneys during the process. Finally, the mediation process is confidential and information shared during the process may not be used in subsequent litigation.
What if We Don't Get Full Agreement?
Mediation is seldom wasted. Even if not all issues are settled, the couple can create an interim agreement incorporating those decisions they have made. They may elect to live with the interim agreement for a period of time and then return to the mediation table. Of course if they feel it is necessary, they can then seek legal counsel in negotiating the remaining issues.
Marital property is all property earned or acquired during the marriage. Separate property is that owned by one party before the marriage. In New York, separate property is awarded to that individual. However, the increase in value of separate property that occurs during the marital period may be divided under the equitable distribution system. Separate property also includes gifts or inheritances received during the marriage.
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