1. How long is it going to take?
On average, the mediation process will take anywhere from 2 to 6 sessions. From start to finish, it will take anywhere from 3 to 9 months, which includes the filing of all papers with the court and final Judgment of Divorce. Both timelines could be more or less, depending on the couple and the issues that have to be resolved.
By comparison, the litigation process takes years. If it goes to trial, you will be lucky to get there within 2 years. Again, depending on the couple and the issues, it could take 3-5-10+ years and a lot of $$$.
2. What will this cost me?
This is probably the most commonly asked question. If you go through thelitigation process in New York, you are each going to spend a minimum $15,000-$20,000 retainer. That’s not going to be all inclusive if your case proceeds much past a month or two. In total, you will easily spend $40,000-$50,000+ each.
The average cost of mediation, on the other hand, is less than $6,000 and that includes filing everything in court. It could be as high as $10,000 if there is a need for experts to evaluate a business, pension or financial evaluation.
Would you rather have that extra money to send your children to college, or help your attorney’s children through college?
3. What if my ex doesn’t comply with the agreement?
Whether you choose mediation or litigation, the question remains the same. The answer is, you take them back to court.
The benefit of mediation, however, is that both parties have input into what the final agreement says and are more likely to comply with the agreement they crafted.
In the litigation process, a judge tells you what to do based on the law and does not take into account the realities of your financial and/or custodial situation. In this case, one party may be disinclined to adhere to the agreement because they simply can’t afford what they have been ordered to provide as child support and/or spousal maintenance.
4. What if the other party isn’t truthful regarding assets and financials?
Again, this is a very common question and concern whether mediating or litigating. The expectation is full disclosure, but nothing can really prevent one of the parties from hiding something.
If there is a suspicion that one of the parties is not telling the truth, then your mediator or lawyer would suggest you go to a forensic accountant or a financial planner.
5. Does a mediator have to be a lawyer?
This is a very, very common question and people are misled by answers they receive, especially from lawyers. The simple answer is no, a mediator does not have to be a lawyer. That doesn’t mean that a lawyer cannot be a mediator, but a lawyer who is in the role as a mediator must be acting in that role of a neutral third-party. Therefore, an attorney cannot give legal advice or represent the best interests of any one party during the mediation process.
If you are thinking about mediation and have any other questions, please feel free to give us a call. We will be happy to help.