Frequently Asked Questions
The end of a marriage often feels like a failed dream. Both parties are usually very hurt, and if children are part of the family, they can suffer, too. Divorce is one of life’s most traumatic transitions.
The traditional route towards divorce involves each party hiring an attorney to represent his/her own best interests. In our system, this means each party has engaged someone to “win” for them–and the negotiations are almost always confrontational. When most divorces are finalized, one party may feel they have won while the other party may feel they have lost. Sometimes, a judge will impose a settlement that leaves both parties unhappy, but they must follow the court’s decision.
Mediation is different. It’s not about winning or losing–it’s about working out a solution for everyone involved.
Why choose mediation?
Mediation is an alternative route towards divorce that often makes the experience less confrontational. In mediation, both spouses meet with a mediator, and build a mutually satisfactory settlement arrangement together. Even if the parties are hostile to each other, a settlement that meets emotional and financial needs can usually be found. In fact, mediation can lay the groundwork for a sustained and workable interaction between the two for what is often a lifelong, post-divorce relationship.
Mediation almost always results in a more civil relationship between the divorcing individuals. But there is an even greater benefit to the children of the marriage. Children almost always experience divorce negatively, but the trauma can often be minimized if they see their parents respectfully working toward a common goal.
Another benefit of mediation is reduced cost. Mediators typically charge less per hour than attorneys and there are generally fewer billed hours. After an initial free consultation with your mediator, a two-hour mediation costs 2 hours of time. With an attorney, that same conversation would cost significantly more given the need for two attorneys (one for each spouse), plus billable hours spent conversing with the client and opposing counsel.
What does a mediator do?
The mediator is a neutral person who helps the parties come to a settlement. Mediators use their skills to channel emotions during the mediation meetings, and help both parties to focus and move forward. Mediators ask clients to focus on the most important issues (such as the well-being of the children) and also points out hidden issues which the couple must resolve.
Does the mediator handle the whole divorce?
The mediator facilitates the couple coming to an agreement. This agreement is then summarized in a Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”).
An attorney then converts the MOU into a legal Separation Agreement. Typically the MOU is sent to a neutral attorney to be converted into a legal document that will be filed with the courts. It is usually recommended that each party have a separate mediation-friendly attorney to review the “Separation” Agreement. The review attorney’s role is not to ‘rubber stamp’ the agreement, but to read it on behalf of his/her client.
How can mediation help my family?
Sometimes parents and children (especially teenagers) have difficulty communicating or setting boundaries. When children become teens and start asserting their independence, curfews, friendships, and jobs can create conflicts. So can issues that seem less serious, such as where to take the family vacation.Mediation helps you sort out the future in the best way possible for you, your partner, children, parents, and any other family members involved in your life.
Why choose me as your mediator?
Mediation has been helpful in other parts of my life as well. I worked on a University campus for most of my career and was President of the faculty/staff union for almost 10 years. During this time I mediated many of the issues that came across my desk. It was clear that mediating differences was far more effective than filing grievances. As Chairman of the Board of the Child Care Corporation on campus I also mediated conflicts between parents and the corporation as well as conflicts between the staff and the director. I also found that getting my PhD in Biology provided me with problem solving skills that facilitated solutions to seemingly impossible differences.
I studied to become a Divorce Mediator in 2000 so that I could offer couples the support and empathy they need while navigating one of life’s most difficult events. I’ve been accredited by the New York State Council on Divorce Mediation and have Advanced Practitioner status in the Association for Conflict Resolution. I am proud to have helped many couples and I am ready to help you, too.
Executive Board Member FOR 9 YEARS & Accredited Member of The New York State Council on Divorce Mediation (www.nyscdm.org)