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A divorce ends the legal relationship created through marriage, but not all New Yorkers may know that there is more than one way to get a divorce. Traditionally, divorces have been pursued in the courts of the state with lawyers advocating for their clients and a judge ultimately deciding how the parties should share their kids, splint their wealth, and support their families in the future. However, individuals who wish to divorce have other options.

One alternative to divorce that some parties may wish to pursue is mediation. Mediation is a collaborative process and happens outside of a courtroom. This post will offer answers to some common questions about mediation, but readers are asked to talk to their family law attorneys about their mediation questions as this post does not provide legal guidance.

What happens in mediation?

Mediation does not involve a court, a judge, or even lawyers. It happens with the parties to a divorce and a third-party mediator. The mediator is not an advocate and does not represent either of the parties. They are present to help the parties discuss their divorce issues and to help them reach agreeable solutions to their conflicts regarding the ends of their marriage.

Who can use mediation to end a marriage?

Mediation is not limited to specific individuals, but there are some divorce cases that may not do well in mediation. For example, if one party to a marriage is abusive to the other, it may be difficult for the parties to work as equals in pursuit of resolving their divorce-based conflicts. Mediation requires working together and respect and not all parties are capable of such characteristics when they are pursuing divorce.

What happens if the parties cannot resolve their differences?

Mediation is often a terminal process that ends with a divorce decree for the involved parties. However, if the parties cannot come to a resolution about some or all of their divorce issues, their case can move to the courts. Litigation may follow mediation if the process is ultimately unsuccessful.

What are the advantages of mediation?

Unlike a traditional litigated divorce, where the control of decision-making often rests with a judge, in mediation the participants get to make their own divorce decisions. The collaborative efforts of the parties often leave parties to mediated divorces more satisfied with their divorce outcomes than those individuals who pursue litigated divorces. Mediated divorces can also, though there is no guaranteed, take less time than litigated divorces and may cost less money.

Mediated divorces are not for everyone but can be considered by many as an option for ending a New York marriage. Before deciding on a divorce path, it can benefit an individual to talk about their divorce options with a legal professional who understands the advantages and drawbacks of both litigated and mediated divorces.