Divorce does not have to be ugly. To many people, this may seem unlikely, but two spouses can separate amicably and even remain on cordial terms after. The trick is deciding how. Divorce mediation is probably the best way. This alternative to the traditional litigated divorce is fast becoming an accepted method throughout the country, including in New York.
Divorce mediation requires a third-party mediator. The mediator helps a couple walk through every divorce issue in a way that creates a sense of cooperation. The goal of this more amicable approach is to reach an agreement on every issue that requires a decision, including child custody, child support and property division. Divorce mediation is not especially helpful where there is a history of domestic violence.
In New York, a couple can find a divorce mediator in several ways. If their case is already in court, then they can ask for a referral to a court-based mediation program. The first session is free and can be followed with reduced-cost sessions.
Community dispute resolution centers also offer free divorce mediation sessions. Their mediators provide free legal advice on various aspects of divorce, such as child custody, spousal support and child support. The couple can also contact the mediation project run by the New York Legal Assistance Group; its mediation services are offered free to low-income New Yorkers.
Spouses can also contact New York's Collaborative Family Law Center. Four 90-minute free sessions are available for eligible couples without minor children in the home; couples with children are eligible for six free sessions.
Divorce mediation will not work in cases where one spouse cannot be contacted or is incarcerated, or when one spouse is the victim of domestic violence. Divorce mediation will also not work where child abuse is an issue in the home.
Source: NYCourts.Gov, "Divorce Mediation," Accessed on March 7, 2015