“Never cut what you can untie.”
~ Joseph Joubert
Divorce Mediation is a peaceful and private way to separate for couples who communicate well and are comfortable with self-direction. The spouses maintain control over the process and the outcome. Research shows that parties who use mediation are happier with the outcome and more likely to comply with their agreement than parties who go to court.
Mediation helps parents restructure their family with less animosity and distrust than litigation, which ultimately benefits the children.
What It Is
Mediation is a facilitated discussion of parties’ needs and interests, conducted outside of court, with the aim of promoting understanding and a mutual, realistic agreement.
During regular meetings, the trained mediator guides the couple through discussions about how they’d like to handle child custody and parenting time, the division of assets, debts and household property, child support, and spousal maintenance (alimony). The mediator can provide information about the state laws that apply to child support and maintenance, and the couple can choose to follow the state formulas or devise their own arrangement. The couple may do “homework” in between sessions to seek information and advice from other sources and professionals to inform their decisions.
Couples who are looking toward an eventual divorce can enter into a complete agreement, and in that case the mediator ensures that all the required issues are negotiated and resolved. Other couples wish to mediate only a part of their separation, such as custody and parenting time and/or support, and a partial agreement can be drafted as well.
When the mediator is not a lawyer, the end result is a Memorandum of Understanding, a summary of the couples’ agreement which is not signed and not binding. If the couple eventually wishes to complete an uncontested divorce without going to court, the MOU must be taken to a lawyer to be converted into a signed, binding Separation Agreement first. Because Gemma Corbin is both an attorney and a mediator, after the mediation is concluded, she is able to prepare the legal Separation Agreement for the couple. The couple can choose to live according to the Agreement for a time, or can complete the divorce right away. The spouse who initiates the divorce can hire their consulting attorney to file the paperwork, or, if the couple has no minor children, they can use the court system’s do-it-yourself program.
What It Isn’t
Mediation isn’t therapy, and it isn’t for couples who are still unsure about whether they should separate/divorce. Furthermore, mediators are neutral – they can’t make decisions or give advice about what the couple should or shouldn’t choose to do. Mediators who are attorneys can provide legal information to the couple about what the law says and how the courts work, but can’t interpret the law for them or give legal advice.
“After taking a basic mediation seminar, I sought advanced training in divorce mediation because I saw that another tool was needed for couples who could communicate respectfully to obtain a separation or divorce with minimal interference. Mediation guides spouses through the process efficiently and affordably, while promoting a genuine understanding between the parties of where they stand and what they need.”
For more information about how Divorce Mediation works and how it differs from Collaborative Divorce, email us to ask for our Process Comparison Chart. You can also schedule a call with Gemma Corbin here for an initial discussion and to ask questions about the divorce process, potential costs, and next steps.
Gemma Corbin is a member of the New York State Council on Divorce Mediation, the New York State Dispute Resolution Association, and the Association for Conflict Resolution-Greater New York chapter.