illustration: divorce mediation

Divorce mediation (FAQ): answers to questions regarding divorce mediation, family mediation, separation agreements, and uncontested divorce documents.

What is Divorce Mediation?

Until recently, all matters concerning separation and divorce were handled by separate attorneys representing each spouse, in preparation for litigation. But now, with the assistance of your neutral mediator, you and your spouse will become decision-making partners, rather than opposing parties in the court room.

Divorce mediation is an agreement reaching process in which a specially trained mediator will help you and your partner to mutually identify and resolve all issues related to your separation and divorce, including:

  • Division of marital property and debt
  • Child support and spousal support
  • Custody, parenting time, and decision-making for your children.

After all issues have been resolved, all decisions made during the mediation may be drafted into a Separation Agreement. Once properly signed, this document will become a legally binding contract which may be filed in court as the basis for an uncontested divorce. { Top }

How long does divorce mediation take?

Because all couples who come to divorce mediation have their own, unique set of circumstances, it is difficult to predict how long the process will take. On average, mediation with couples who have children and who own their home takes 3-4 sessions. Mediation with couples who do not have children averages one-two sessions. The mediation process can always be completed in a fraction of the time that it takes to divorce in the traditional manner. Mediation sessions usually last 90 minutes. { Top }

How much does Divorce Mediation cost?

Divorce Mediation sessions are billed on a per session basis, and payable at the end of each 90 minute session. There is no up-front retainer fee. The total cost of the mediation process is based upon the number of sessions needed and varies depending on the complexity of any particular situation. Separate legal fees will be incurred to prepare your Settlement Agreement and uncontested divorce documents when the mediation has been successfully completed. To obtain a divorce or legal separation through the Mediation process is always far less costly and much faster than retaining two separate attorneys in a litigated divorce situation. { Top }

Do I need an attorney?

Although Ms. Gerber is a New York state licensed attorney, she will not represent either spouse in any capacity, at any time, and does not provide legal advice. Her role during the mediation is solely that of an impartial mediator. At the conclusion of the mediation, in most cases, Ms. Gerber will be able to prepare your separation agreement in her role as mediator. It is strongly recommended that each spouse consult with review attorney at some point during the mediation process, but especially at the end, to review the agreement prior to signing. This will ensure that you both have a full understanding of your individual legal rights and responsibilities. Your separation agreement will become a binding legal contract between you once properly signed. In most cases Ms. Gerber will be able to prepare and file all uncontested divorce documents on your behalf, in her role as Mediator. { Top }

What are the grounds for a divorce?

The “fault” grounds which may form the basis of a New York divorce are the following:

  • cruel and inhuman treatment;
  • abandonment;
  • imprisonment;
  • adultery.

Fault is not addressed in mediated divorces. Mediation as a process looks forward, rather than backward. As a result, the grounds used in a mediated divorce are the “no-fault” grounds for the basis of a New York divorce, as follows:

  • Living separate and apart under the terms of a Separation Agreement for one year or more;
  • The irretrievable breakdown of the marriage for a period of at least six months.
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What is a Separation Agreement?

A separation agreement is a detailed contract in which the parties agree to live separate and apart for the rest of their lives. It should detail the respective rights and duties of the husband and wife relating to custody and access to the children, support payments, property distribution, and all other marital issues. Certain formalities must be followed in order for the agreement to qualify as a ground for divorce. Once filed with the clerk of the county where either spouse lives, after one year has passed from the date you sign the agreement, either spouse may sue the other for a “no-fault” divorce. { Top }

What is the Equitable Distribution law?

The division of assets and debt, and the fixing of spousal support, are covered under New York’s Equitable Distribution law. This statute is based upon the concept that marriage is both an economic and social partnership. Property is distinguished by whether it is separate, or pre-marital and generally not divisible, or marital and subject to division based upon equitable principles. Alimony under New York law is referred to as maintenance, and is based upon certain factors set forth in the domestic relations statute. { Top }

What is Child Support?

Child support is the amount of money the non-custodial parent is obligated to pay to the custodial parent for the support of the children. Basic child support is calculated on a percentage of the non-custodial parent’s income, and the number of children of the marriage.

In addition to the basic child support obligation, both parents may be responsible for additional child-related expenses for health insurance, reasonable health care costs not covered by health insurance, and child care. { Top }