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Divorce Mediator in Syracuse, New York

Ending a marriage can be an emotional and challenging time. There are financial issues to be resolved, and if children are involved, then custody, child support, and parenting time decisions need to be reached. The couple dissolving their union have two upfront choices: Battle it out in court and let a judge decide all the issues, or work together to resolve everything and submit a settlement agreement to the court. The first option is called a contested divorce; the second is an uncontested divorce. 

An uncontested divorce has some obvious benefits. First, it will save the cost of legal fees while you present your arguments in court. It should also save time. It will also relieve you of the possibility of facing a divorce judgment that neither of you finds totally acceptable and will cloud your lives going forward. The question then is: If we can’t get along in married life, how are we going to sit down and iron out an uncontested divorce settlement? 

The answer to that is you can enlist the aid of a mediator. Mediation is part of what is known as alternative dispute resolution (ADR). Alternative refers to the fact that, whatever issue needs to be addressed in a legal sense, it can be done outside of the courtroom.

If you are seeking an amicable, uncontested divorce in or around Syracuse, New York, contact me, Nancy L. Giardina, Esq. I have been helping couples wishing to resolve their issues through a collaborative divorce move on with their lives for more than 20 years.  

I am a skilled mediator who can guide both of you in reaching agreement on important decisions, finalize a settlement agreement, and avoid the costs and emotional drama of a courtroom battle. I also proudly serve clients in Onondaga County, Madison County, Oswego County, Cayuga County, and Cortland County. 

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What Is Mediation? 

Mediation is an informal alternative dispute resolution process—setting it apart from arbitration, which has more of the aspects of an actual trial. Mediation is not binding, unlike arbitration, but is designed to get the two parties to agree on a resolution, in this case, on the details of a divorce. Mediators are trained professionals. They don’t make decisions, but help the parties involved discuss all the pertinent issues and then agree on what’s best for them moving forward. 

Mediation sessions are usually held in an informal office setting. Both parties gather to air their feelings and hopes for the future without being judged. The mediator will seek to make everyone comfortable, even if the two individuals have doubts about the process and differences in what choices to make regarding the divorce. The process can unfold as slowly or quickly as the two individuals choose. 

Benefits of a Mediated Divorce 

As mentioned briefly in the opening, a mediated and uncontested divorce saves the cost of attorneys’ fees if you choose to confront one another in court to decide every issue. You will no doubt still have attorneys’ fees in mediation, but they will be much less than the hours spent and billed for a courtroom contest. Mediation should also be quicker than going to court. Mediation is also private. There is no public record as there would be in a court proceeding. 

Perhaps the biggest benefit, however, is that the two spouses will end up being more comfortable with the details of their after-marriage lives rather than having important aspects imposed upon them by a judge. The mediation process should, in other words, last as long as it takes for both sides to accept and agree upon all the issues in dissolving a marriage. 

Issues to Be Addressed in Mediation 

In a divorce, depending on whether there are children involved, the issues to be addressed begin with a division of marital property (anything acquired during the time of marriage) and the division of debts. There may be the issue of spousal support, or alimony. If there are children, then there are child support, custody, and parenting time considerations. 

The Mediation Process: An Overview 

As mentioned above, mediation usually takes place in an informal office setting, perhaps a conference room. The mediator will lay out the agenda and explain the process. Often, both parties will begin by making a short statement, and the mediator will respond by asking some questions to get clarification. 

Then the mediation focuses on the issues that the spouses agree on and don’t agree on. The mediator may discuss these jointly with both spouses or decide to meet separately with each spouse. This can be called the “gathering information” stage.  

The next stage can be termed the “framing stage,” in which each person expresses their “needs and interests.” Not all needs and interests can be met fully since mediation is a process of compromise, but the mediator needs to know what each party is expecting and hoping for. 

The next stage is negotiating. The mediator will lead the two parties through a discussion of ways to settle each issue in their divorce. The goal is to satisfy each person’s needs and interests as much as possible. The mediator will propose solutions.  

When negotiations are completed and both parties signal their acceptance, the final stage is drafting a settlement agreement to be presented to the court.  

Importance of a Practical and Positive Approach 

One or both of you may be skeptical of the mediation process or skeptical of each other’s intentions, but you need to approach everything with an open mind and a practical attitude. Try to be positive that the outcome will be one that benefits both partners and that the process is much preferable to having a judge decide your fate for you. The mediator will not impose solutions on you, but facilitate discussions until an agreement is reached. 

Divorce Mediator in Syracuse, New York 

You don’t have to have an agreement on any of the issues before entering into mediation. Even if the two of you find it difficult to talk to one another, the mediation process will still prove beneficial and open up avenues for discussion and negotiation that would probably elude you on your own. 

If you’re seeking a collaborative, or uncontested, divorce in or around Syracuse, New York, reach out to me, Nancy L. Giardina, Esq. I have been helping couples resolve their issues and move forward through mediation for over two decades. I’m here to help you, too.