Nassau County Family Law Blog

Monday, April 25, 2016

How Divorce Mediation Allows for Mature Discussion

What are the alternatives to divorce litigation?

There are many reasons why marriages end in divorce: financial problems, falling out of love, extramarital affairs or other difficult situations. In the end, problems often arise between spouses because they fail to communicate, and being an effective communicator is really a matter of listening. Because contentious divorce litigation does not foster listening, many couples today are choosing other alternatives. For spouses who are ready to have a mature discussion about ending their marriage, divorce mediation may be a forum where each party can be heard.

What is Mediation?

Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution. In this process, the spouses hire a mediator who helps them resolve legal disputes and reach an agreement. This approach takes less time than litigating a divorce, is less expensive, and can also minimize the tension associated with a traditional divorce.

The reason mediation is very cost-effective is that months of discovery and legal fees are not necessary. Therefore, mediation also tends to be much quicker than divorce litigation; agreements can often be reached within three to six mediation sessions. This alternative will only be successful, however, when both parties agree to participate in the process and are open and honest during the negotiation.

Ultimately, the essence of mediation is creating an atmosphere of empathy and understanding in which robust and mature discussion can occur. In so doing, a couple has a better chance of successfully navigating the divorce while continuing to effectively co-parent their children. By working collaboratively to resolve issues centered on dividing property, spousal support and child custody and support, each spouse is more likely to buy-in to an agreement and take ownership of the process.

Collaborative Divorce

Another alternative to litigation is a relatively new approach referred as collaborative divorce which is aimed at allowing for a good faith exchange of information without a lengthy legal discovery process.  In a collaborative divorce, each spouse and their attorneys must agree in writing not to pursue a court proceeding and to negotiate a settlement instead. If the martial dispute cannot be resolved and the spouses require the court to intervene, they must find new attorneys.

If you are considering a divorce and are looking to avoid a costly and contentious legal process, an experienced family law attorney can help you explore alternatives like mediation and collaborative divorce.

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