What is Divorce Mediation?
Divorce mediation is a voluntary process that allows couples to reach an agreement with respect to their divorce in a private and confidential setting without ever having to enter the adversarial arena of the courthouse. With the help of a neutral mediator, the couple sits down together and resolves all of the issues that need to be decided in order to obtain a divorce. These issues include parenting, access schedule, the division of assets and debts, spousal support and child support.
Couples are not encouraged to “fight” for what they want or to engage in positional negotiation — the foundation of the traditional adversarial model. Instead, both party’s needs and interests come into the room at the same time. By creating a safe, sane and neutral environment where both parties can be heard and understood by each other, they are able to set aside destructive behavior and feelings and concentrate on a way to envision a future that prioritizes their highest interests. By focusing on the hope of the future rather than dwelling on the problems of the past, both parties can resolve their differences and move forward towards a better and happy life while redefining and strengthening their families.
The Benefits of Divorce Mediation
- less expensive
- puts the power in your hands (not the courts)
- creative and customized solutions
- less emotional damage to you and your children
- IT WORKS
Why Silpe Mediation?
Stacey Silpe’s philosophy and mediation skills have evolved over the course of her 25+ years as an attorney. With many of those years in litigation, she fully understands the financial challenge and emotional burden of courtroom disputes. She is keenly aware that most people will want to avoid that negative experience.
As an experienced mediator, Stacey has genuine empathy for her clients. She does not judge or make decisions. Rather, she supports and guides her clients to reach an agreement that is acceptable to both sides.
Stacey is adept at solving complicated financial issues and as an experienced divorce lawyer she can successfully guide both parties through all of the legal aspects of divorce.
Ultimately, Stacey’s goal is to provide the most favorable environment for her clients to become their “best selves” during this most stressful and difficult period in their lives.
Other Methods of Obtaining a Divorce
A divorce is either uncontested or contested which determines the methods or options for divorce open to you.
Uncontested means both you and your spouse want a divorce and are willing to work out an agreement regarding division of assets and debts, spousal support, and child support, if applicable. Divorce mediation, defined above, falls under this category. In addition to divorce mediation, there are two other options open to divorcing couples dealing with an uncontested divorce:
- Do-it-Yourself – The law does not require you to have an attorney to get a divorce. That said, divorce law can be complex and dealing with the court system can be complicated. If you make mistakes, they can be costly and irreversible once the divorce decree (final ruling) is signed by a judge. For your protection, at a minimum, it is usually recommended that you have an experienced divorce lawyer review your settlement agreement before you sign.
- Collaborative Divorce – Like divorce mediation, collaborative divorce is an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process. However, in collaborative law (also referred to as collaborative practice) each spouse is represented by an attorney specifically trained in the collaborative process. As the name implies, collaborative practice tends to be more of a “team” approach because other individuals such as financial planners and mental health professionals are often involved. Unlike mediation, if the collaborative process fails and the parties decide to pursue litigation, the attorneys must withdraw from the case and the spouses must hire new legal representation.
In a contested divorce, one of the spouses disagrees on one or more issues such as how the assets and debts should be divided or on what the grounds (legal reasons) are for the divorce. They may even disagree that a divorce is warranted. This situation generally leads to litigation where the issues are argued by opposing attorneys and decided by the court.
- Litigated Divorce – Litigation is the process of taking legal action. And that, of course, brings courtrooms, lawyers, judges, judgements, and lots of legal bureaucracy into the picture. Similar to other types of litigation, the person who initiates the legal action of filing for divorce is called the plaintiff, and the other spouse is called the defendant. Unfortunately, litigated divorces usually minimize communication between the parties and maximize hard feelings, stress, and legal expenses. Important lifestyle-impacting decisions regarding finances and parenting are made by a judge.
Divorce vs Annulment
To be clear, a divorce is the legal termination or dissolution of a marriage by court order. An annulment, on the other hand, is the voiding or nullification of a marriage. When a marriage is annulled, it’s as if it never happened from a legal standpoint. In cases where wrongdoing is asserted, grounds (legally acceptable reasons) for divorce can include things like cruel and inhuman treatment, abandonment, imprisonment, and adultery. Separation can also be a ground for divorce if the spouses have lived apart for at least one year. In 2010, No-Fault divorce was enacted in New York state adding to the list of reasons for divorce: the irretrievable breakdown of a relationship for a period of at least six months. Reasons for an annulment include being under the legal age of consent, bigamy, mental incapacity, physical incapacity, duress, and fraud.
Divorce Statistics – You Are Not Alone
Divorce, unfortunately, is a fact of life. People change, relationships evolve and sometimes, they devolve. Some people are simply better off apart than they are together. If you are facing the prospect of divorce, it is sometimes comforting to know that you are not alone. The table below shows the number of divorces per year, by duration of marriage, for the ten-year period ending 2013.
|Number of Divorces in New York State By Duration of Marriage (in years) 2008 through 2013|
Legal Requirements for Divorce in NY
To file for divorce in New York State, you must have a legally acceptable reason (ground) and you must satisfy a residency requirement.
Residency Requirement in New York State
To obtain a divorce in New York, you or your spouse must have been living in New York State for a certain amount of time, generally one year. For the detailed requirement, go to the legal requirements section of the FAQ page at nycourts.gov.
Grounds for divorce in New York State
- Cruel and inhuman treatment
- Living separate for at least one year based on a separation judgment or decree given by the court
- Living separate and apart based on a separation agreement signed by both spouses
- Irretrievable breakdown (no fault)
The last item, above, irretrievable breakdown, also referred to as no-fault divorce, was signed into law in New York State in 2010. This ground for divorce essentially says that the marital relationship has deteriorated beyond any possibility of reconciliation for a period of at least six months. The court will not grant a divorce for this reason, however, until after property, spousal support, custody, child support, and visitation have been settled.