Residents of Nassau County and other suburbs of New York City who are contemplating divorcing their spouse usually view the concept as frightening and almost unbearably painful. While no divorce is free from stress and emotional pain, the New York State judicial system and attorneys who spend most of their time resolving matrimonial cases have developed several methods of speeding up the marital dissolution process.

One of the most effective is divorce mediation. Most people entering upon the road to a divorce do not really know what mediation means and they may be anxious to begin this process. This post will attempt to reduce that anxiety by providing a litigant’s view of mediation.

As defined by the rules of the Supreme Court of Nassau County, “Mediation is cooperative process for resolving conflict with the assistance of a trained court-approved, neutral third party, whose role is to facilitate communication, to help define issues, and to assist the parties in identifying and negotiating fair solutions that are mutually agreeable.”

The key ingredient in that word salad is “neutral third party.” Mediation employs someone who is trained to listen to both sides of an argument without making any judgements about who may be right or wrong. The mediator may meet with the parties jointly or separately and may require several face-to-face meetings. The mediator’s task is the identification of the issues that still divide the couple and prevent them from agreeing on the terms of their divorce.

The issues may include financial matters, splitting marital assets, post-divorce financial support and, of course, custody and care of the couple’s children. As indicated in the Court’s definition, the mediator helps define issues and assists the parties in communicating their genuine concerns to each other.  The mediator has no power to order either of the parties to take any action that the party does want to take.

The only agreement that can emerge from a mediation is an agreement that is acceptable to both parties. The parties’ attorneys are permitted to attend the mediation sessions, but they may be excluded if the mediator deems their presence to be disruptive. Anyone desiring more information about how mediation works may wish to consult an experienced divorce lawyer.

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