Divorce Mediation in Rochester, NY
Experienced Rochester Divorce Lawyer Assisting Clients Through The Divorce Mediation Process
The idea of litigating a divorce causes some people to wake up in a cold sweat each night. Ligation can be expensive and adversarial, and the judge has the final say. The loss of control is too much for some people to bear. Fortunately, there is a solution to this problem.
Divorce mediation is often more affordable, and instead of being adversarial, the two parties work together to reach an agreement. The divorcing parties have the power in these proceedings instead of a judge.
Choosing the right mediator is critical for the process to be a success. Michelle Cimino of The Cimino Law Firm has more than two decades of experience handling divorce cases in New York. She can work in collaboration with mediators so you can reach an agreement without the stress of court.
How Does Divorce Mediation Work?
A divorce mediator is a neutral party. The attorney will not work on behalf of one client while ignoring the needs of the other. Instead, our mediator will help both parties agree to the terms of the divorce.
These issues include:
- Distribution of property and assets
- Distribution of debt
- Child support
- Custody agreements
- Spousal maintenance
The mediator will facilitate the discussion for each issue, ensuring that the parties don’t get off-topic. Also, while the mediator cannot provide legal advice, he or she can go over New York’s laws. For instance, the mediator can explain how much spousal support the courts would likely grant or how the assets would be divided. This gives both parties insight into what they could expect if they went to court. It also makes it easier to come to an agreement during the divorce mediation process.
While the mediator provides legal information, the divorcing parties have control regarding their decisions. Mediation is not binding, so no one is forced to make a decision or agree. However, couples typically come to an agreement for all issues related to the divorce.
Couples usually meet at least three times with the mediator to work through the issues. However, some cases take eight or more meetings. Each meeting brings couples closer to the goal of agreeing on their divorce. While the amount of time it will take differs from one client to the next, mediation has four stages.
Information Gathering and Mediation Strategy
The first meeting creates a basic foundation for the mediation proceedings. During this stage, you will provide the mediator will the issues of your divorce. For example, if you have children, you would discuss child custody and child support. If the other spouse is the sole breadwinner, you could also discuss spousal maintenance.
You will also need to bring financial statements such as tax returns with you during this meeting. It is critical to bring all pertinent information. If more time is needed for appraisals, a second information-gathering session will be needed.
After going over the information, the mediator will create a divorce mediation strategy. This strategy will be based on the relationship between the two parties and the issues of the divorce, such as child custody. The mediator will create an agenda based on the strategy and also make a summary of the finances.
Needs and Interests
After gathering the relevant information, the parties will need to go through the needs and interests stage of the divorce mediation process. Both parties will have an idea of what they want out of a divorce settlement. For instance, one person might want the house while the other chooses the bank accounts. Both parties also might want physical custody of the children.
During the needs and interests stage, each party explains what they want in the agreement. The mediator will look for areas where the needs and interests overlap. For example, both parties usually want what is in the best interest of the children. When this happens, it is often easier to find a compromise. However, divorce mediation can work, even when the interests don’t overlap.
After looking at the needs and interests, the mediator can determine the goals of the mediation. The mediator and both parties will work toward those goals during the divorce mediation process.
Mediation is about compromise, so the negotiation stage is very important. The mediator can present options to both parties, but he or she cannot offer legal advice. The spouses look at the various options presented and choose how to move forward.
During the negotiation, the mediator reminds people of their most important needs and interests. In many cases, both parties can get their needs and interests met by comprising on issues that are less important to them. For example, if one person’s most important need is receiving spousal support and the other party’s most important need is to get 50/50 physical custody, both needs can be used for negotiation. One spouse might agree to 50/50 physical custody if the other agrees to spousal support. Trading off acceptable options is the key to a successful mediation. This is critical for making both sides happy during the divorce mediation process.
Once they agree to the terms of the divorce, the mediator prepares a separation agreement or files divorce papers. Both parties can have another lawyer look at the agreement or papers before they are filed, but this is a matter of personal choice. Many people choose to have The Cimino Law Firm handle this process without retaining outside counsel.
The Separation Agreement
The separation agreement includes the issues that have been resolved through mediation. These include child custody and support, if applicable. This agreement signifies the beginning of your separation. You and your spouse can live apart for one year and then convert the agreement into a divorce. If you need help to convert your agreement into a divorce at the end of the separation period, The Cimino Law Firm can handle this for you.
Filing for Divorce
Many people are ready to get divorced immediately following the mediation. They do not want to wait a full year and then convert the separation agreement into a legal divorce.
Your mediator can allow you to skip the separation agreement and move directly to the divorce. After you have agreed upon the terms of the divorce in mediation, the mediator can file a no-fault divorce.
You will not have to appear in court since you have already created an agreement. This is a non-contested divorce and moves through the system quickly.
Confidentiality and Divorce Mediation
It’s important to understand that all issues discussed in divorce mediation are strictly confidential. Even if mediation doesn’t work, the other party cannot use any of the information against you in court. This is one reason why so many people choose to at least begin with mediation. It’s not legally binding, and it’s confidential. If it doesn’t work out, you still have the option of going to court without worrying about providing evidence in mediation.
Schedule A Free Consultation at The Cimino Law Firm
The Cimino Law Firm has been handling divorces in New York for more than 20 years. You can begin the process with a free phone consultation to learn more about how the divorce mediation process works. Then you can visit our Rochester or Webster, New York, office to begin the process.
We can help you alleviate the stress and minimize the contention during your divorce. Contact us today to learn more about divorce mediation.
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