Across movie screens and home TVs, the scene of a warring husband and wife fighting out their divorce in court may not be an unfamiliar scene. What these popular movies and shows fail to point out is that most New York couples who plan to divorce won't have any need to stand before a judge for litigation. Options for alternative dispute resolution have becoming increasingly popular and are often quicker and cheaper than heading straight to court.
If you're seeking to avoid litigation, which most people generally are, mediation is a useful alternative. Instead of mutual negotiation where the couple attempts to work out issues on their own, mediation utilizes an impartial individual. This person is referred to as the mediator.
The mediator's purpose is to help couples come to a settlement to which they both agree. New York residents have multiple options for locating a qualified mediator, including requesting a referral from the court if you're already in litigation. Additionally, you there may be resources in the community to help locate a mediator, although your counsel can likely to steer you toward the most qualified individual.
Although mediation is a great alternative to litigation in court, if domestic violence played a role in the divorce, this choice may not be appropriate. Additionally, even though the mediator is an impartial party, you are still entitled to have your counsel attend with you in order to protect your rights and interests. As long as the divorce is not particularly complex or hostile, most New York couples can seek beneficial results from mediation rather than hopping straight into a court battle.
Source: nycourts.gov, "Divorce Mediation", Nov. 3, 2014