What is Court-Ordered Mediation?
Within the last few years, New York state has created a “presumptive mediation” initiative. This means that in many cases, people who file for divorce are referred for mediation after filing the initial petition. What does this mean for your case?
New York and presumptive mediation
Mediation rules vary from county to county, but generally speaking, New York courts review an initial divorce petition and determine whether the couple is eligible for mediation. It’s designed to expedite the overall process and free up the court’s time—assuming the couple is willing and able to come to an agreement through mediation.
However, there are certain circumstances in which mediation may not be appropriate or desirable. Westchester County, for example, does not automatically recommend mediation when there is a serious power imbalance, like one spouse controls the finances while the other is a stay-at-home parent. A history of domestic violence and/or child abuse also contraindicates mediation.
If your case is referred to court-ordered mediation, you’ll usually get one free 90-minute session. If you’re unable to resolve all of your issues within that time, however, you’re on the hook for paying a mediator for additional sessions, or litigating the divorce in court.
Private mediation and New York divorces
That’s why some couples hire a private mediator before filing their petition. Mediation is often far less expensive than hiring lawyers, and if you’re able to agree to a settlement before filing, you won’t need to go through court-appointed mediators.
Keep in mind that mediation isn’t right for everyone, even if you want to get your divorce over with quickly. High conflict spouses, a history of abuse or domestic violence and financial power imbalances can make reaching a fair agreement impossible. Having an attorney advocate for your rights can be crucial in these cases.
Talk to the trusted Long Island divorce meditators at Solutions Divorce Mediation to find out whether mediation is right for your situation.