Divorce Mediation FAQ

Why is mediation more cost effective than adversarial law?
Atlantis Mediation fees are structured to pay-as-you-go which allows you to move through the process in your own time. A retainer is not required. Unlike typical attorney arrangements, you only pay for the preparation of the Memorandum of Understanding and actual time spent in mediation. You are not charged for review of documents, research time, telephone time, copying expenses, or the cost of paralegals and other paraprofessionals. The mediation focus is on preserving family relationships.
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Will mediation work if we have a very complex divorce?
Yes. Atlantis Mediation brings a clear, step-by-step approach to the resolution of all issues. In some cases it is necessary to bring in outside experts such as pension evaluators, appraisers, accountants and tax specialists to assist, as is necessary. All the information discovered is discussed and shared together so a clear understanding is developed of the entire financial picture.
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How does child support work?
In New York State, there are guidelines and a formula to calculate child support. The formula must always be calculated and included in the divorce agreement narrative. The parents are able to agree on a higher or lower amount, depending on their unique situation. The reasons for their variance will also be included in their divorce narrative.
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Do we have to go to court?
You never have to go to court if you work through your divorce in the safe, neutral environment of Atlantis Mediation. The Memorandum of Understanding and all required court documents can be prepared and filed with the court, resulting in a full legal divorce.
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When is the best time to mediate?
The best time is sooner rather than later, before the expense and emotional turmoil of legal litigation begins. If legal representation has already been secured it is not too late. Most cases settle before trial, so it is almost never too late to mediate. Most legal professionals and courts advise mediation before litigation.
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What are the mediation benefits?
The mediation process provides an opportunity to preserve the relationship you have with the other party. The agreements reached in mediation are typically more creative and better able to address the individual needs of the parties. Studies show a higher satisfaction rate with mediation because the parties are vested in the agreements they created together. The mediation process is usually much quicker and cost effective than the court process.
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Is mediation appropriate for same gender break-ups?
Definitely. The process remains the same. The parties define the issues and their resolution. The mediators at Atlantis Mediation have many years of experience in this area.
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What issues can be mediated?

  • Full legal divorce
  • Pre-nuptial agreements
  • Marriage plans to strengthen marriage relationships
  • Legal separation agreements
  • Cohabitation agreements
  • Domestic partnership agreements
  • Parenting agreements (child custody)
  • Temporary agreements
  • Child support and maintenance agreements
  • Relocation agreements
  • Court modification agreements
  • Division of assets and debts
  • Family inheritance issues
  • Family business disputes
  • Eldercare agreements between grown siblings

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What are the benefits of mediation?

  • Provides a full, legal divorce
  • No court appearance
  • Significantly reduces legal costs to preserve more money for the family
  • Enhances child/parent relationships
  • Maintains privacy
  • Provides full control over all decisions and agreements
  • Reduces stress for the entire family
  • Provides a healthy model of problem solving for family and friends
  • Promotes effective communication
  • Supports and acknowledges difficult life transitions

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Is mediation legal and binding?
Yes. Your mediated agreements are legal and binding as long as they are properly drafted and signed by the parties. Once all the issues are resolved within the mediation process, the attorney mediator prepares a dissolution of marriage document. When this document has been approved and signed by both parties, it is filed with the court, along with the other required legal forms. Once the judge signs the document, it becomes an Order of the Court/Judgment and is binding just as if you had appeared in court, resulting in a full, legal divorce.
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Will my legal rights be protected in mediation?
You will make no agreement in mediation without your legal rights being considered. Since mediation is voluntary on both sides, an agreement is only finalized when both sides have agreed that it is fair.
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How long does it take to get a divorce?
Mediation typically takes between 3-6 sessions of 1-2.5 hours for each session. The courts in the Hudson Valley typically take 6-8 weeks to returned a decree of divorce, signed by the judge.
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What are the key elements in mediation?
Timely: mediation offers a laser-focussed approach, based on the parties needs. It is efficient and can be structured to address the participants need for a quick process.
Responsibility: mediation offers an opportunity for both sides to take responsibility for their actions as they move forward, devoid of blame or a rehash of the past.
Privacy: the process is private and confidential. Mediation is not a matter of public record.

Control: both sides have ample opportunity to share their perspective, and to feel that they have been heard. The parties define and craft their own solutions. Mediated agreements contain the parties’ sense of what is fair, not as defined by a judge or some other court professional.
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What does mediation do?
Mediation provides a safe, confidential environment for the parties to share information with one another, to discuss, analyze and explore creative and alternative solutions with professional mediators who lend their experience to the situation. Through mediation, the parties are encouraged to be future-focused by figuring out what they need and are then assisted in devising a plan on how to get there. Often, agreements include back-up plans and define a dispute resolution process in the event it is needed as the parties move forward.
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Do we both have to be involved to mediate?
Yes. Mediation is voluntary and requires the involvement and agreement of both parties. In occasional situations where the parties cannot be in the same room, we can engage in “shuttle” mediation in separate rooms or telephone mediation.
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Who protects the children in divorce?
Through mediation the parents decide what is best for their family. Agreements are typically more creative and may include a range of issues including higher education, private schools, relocation issues, holiday scheduling, car insurance. Atlantis Mediation provides resources to parents to help them create developmentally appropriate parenting plans, child support arrangements and design a process for future review as family needs and resources change.
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Can we use mediation even if we have attorneys?
Yes. Mediation is available to you at any time before, during or after you have hired an attorney. You always have the right to direct your attorney to discontinue all adversarial activity.
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Will mediation work if one or both parties are angry?
Generally, yes. Our decades of experience has shown that the majority of highly contested issues have been resolved in mediation. Underlying issues that can interfere with resolution such as anger, fear and defensiveness are effectively managed and controlled. Mediation is not appropriate when domestic violence or abuse is present.
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Who should consider mediation?
People who are willing to make a good faith effort to resolve their differences and want to control the amount and type of information that becomes part of the public record should consider mediation. The files of the court are normally open to the public, including allegations made by either party. Mediation is especially appropriate for business colleagues, co-parents, or circle of relatives or friends whom will have a continuing relationship with one another. Mediation can provide a mutually beneficial incentive to explore ways to prevent future disagreements and to continue an amicable relationship.
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When is mediation useful?
Mediation is most appropriate when:

  • There are strong emotional feelings involved
  • The parties want to keep their discussions private
  • One side is not comfortable confronting the other
  • An impasse has been reached
  • The goal is to avoid costly litigation
  • The parties want to preserve as much money as possible for the family
  • Both sides want to maintain control over the process.

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How is mediation different from court litigation?
Often, litigation is an adversarial approach that demeans the other side. You lose control of certain aspects of your life and the outcome is usually uncertain, with no guarantees concerning the time, expense or emotional costs involved.

Parties participating in mediation retain control and make their own decisions, with the support of the mediator. Either party can withdraw at any time. The mediator does not represent either party, nor judge who is right or wrong. Instead, the mediator helps both sides satisfy their individual needs. The mediator will not reveal any discussions in mediation to anyone other than the participants. Although attorneys are always welcome within the mediation, they more typically serve in a consulting or reviewing capacity.
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Do I need to have my own attorney?
You may want some brief time with a mediation-friendly attorney. Atlantis Mediation provides a resource list of mediation-friendly attorneys. Once you have created your Memorandum of Understanding you can choose to have a consulting attorney review the document on your behalf.
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What kind of situations can be mediated?
Most situations can be mediated and traditional adversarial litigation avoided. Neighbor disputes and civil disputes involving large sums, workplace disputes, family matters and divorce are all appropriate for mediation. Mediation is even appropriate after litigation has begun if the parties are interested in settling the matter in less time, for less money.
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How does mediation differ from arbitration?
Non-binding arbitration results in the arbitrator or a panel of arbitrators making a decision. However, neither party is bound by an arbitrator’s decision nor is an arbitration award issued. Subsequent to a non-binding arbitration, the parties to the dispute can either pursue their claim through courts or by a binding arbitration. In binding arbitration, the decision or award is rendered and can be disputed only in limited circumstances.

In mediation, the parties make all the decisions. The mediator’s role is to support the parties and assist in creating solid, comprehensive agreements by facilitating confidential communication and negotiation until the parties reach a voluntary and mutually agreeable solution. The parties are in complete control and determine the terms of their agreement.
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For a free consultation or to learn more, call Atlantis Mediation at (845) 876-6100 or click here.

Divorce, separation and unraveling one’s life is always difficult. These issues require care during these times when people are especially vulnerable. The cost of mediation is less than collaborative law or litigation. Atlantis Mediation is a mediation leader in the Hudson Valley: Amenia, Arlington, Beacon, Clinton Corners, Columbia County, Dover Plains, Fishkill, Dutchess County, Germantown, Hopewell Junction, Hyde Park, Lagrangeville, Milan, Millbrook, Millerton, Pawling, Pine Plains, Pleasant Valley, Poughkeepsie, Red Hook, Rhinebeck, Rhinecliff, Salt Point, Staatsburg, Tivoli, Ulster County, Wappingers Falls, and Wingdale. Services also provided in Brooklyn & Manhattan.