Understanding the Divorce Mediation Process in Long Island
Cost-effective, cooperative process works for many couples
At Bryan L. Salamone & Associates, P.C., we take pride in being an aggressive litigation firm that wins even against the longest odds. But not every couple needs to litigate every point of their divorce. For couples who communicate respectfully and want to parent their children cooperatively, mediation could be the way to go. However, you should be aware that mediators must remain neutral, so they cannot offer you advice. Many are not divorce attorneys, so there may be serious gaps in their knowledge of the law. To fully protect your rights, it’s best to consult with an experienced divorce lawyer before, during and after the mediation process.
How divorce mediation works
Mediation is a voluntary, nonbinding process. Couples enter mediation to save time and expense in hammering out the details of their divorce. The process usually begins after one of the spouses has filed for divorce, and follows these basic steps:
- You and your spouse select a person to act as your divorce mediator. (We recommend that you choose an attorney, who is trained and experienced as a mediator.)
- You set a schedule for your mediation sessions, generally once a week or once every two weeks.
- You meet with your attorney before and after each mediation session.
- At the mediation sessions, you discuss your goals for reaching a settlement. The mediator helps you move forward toward a resolution.
- The goal of mediation is to reach agreement on as many of your ancillary divorce issues as possible. The mediation ends when there is complete agreement, or when it is clear the remaining issues must be tried in court. The mediator, with your input, presents a final settlement agreement for your signatures.
- The spouses’ attorneys present your mediated agreement to the court for approval.
- You proceed to trial on unresolved issues.
The length of this process depends on many factors:
- How often you can meet
- How well the spouses cooperate
- How prepared the spouses are for each meeting
- How effective the mediator is at brokering agreement
- The complexity of your divorce issues
Your attorney’s role in divorce mediation
When you participate in divorce mediation, no one is there looking out for your rights. It’s essential to have the advice of an experienced divorce attorney before and after each mediation session. Our attorneys at Salamone & Associates:
- Prepare for your mediation session by reviewing the topic to be covered, giving you a primer on your rights, examining any documentation to be discussed and helping you to identify your goals.
- Review your notes on the session. We discuss the legal implications of any proposals and evaluate how they match your stated goals.
- Draft a complete proposed settlement agreement for you to present for your spouse’s approval. We review the settlement proposals that emerge from your mediation process, either from the mediator or your spouse. We give a candid appraisal of the agreements with our recommendation for revisions.
Although you are in charge of your case, we’re committed to giving you the full benefit of our experience, so you can judge whether your mediated agreement is one you can live with, or if you’d prefer to take your chances litigating one or more of the issues.
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Divorce mediation can save you time, expense and frustration, but only if you do it the right way. Bryan L. Salamone & Associates, P.C. has experience guiding clients through the mediation process. Call us at 1.631.479.3839 or contact our office online for a free initial consultation.