Many of us have seen those long, drawn-out, finger-pointing divorce battles shown in movies and television shows. What you may not know is that these scenes are usually portraying very unusual contested litigation.
While the real-life version of divorce may not be as dramatic as the fictional portrayals, it is not typically an enjoyable process for either party. Many couples who choose divorce litigation do so because there is conflict they cannot reconcile outside of court.
Mediation, on the other hand, is a legal process that allows a divorcing couple to settle matters outside of court by hiring a neutral third-party to discuss and help resolve divorce-related issues together by encouraging compromise and cooperation.
During court slowdowns amid the coronavirus pandemic, our firm has successfully helped numerous separating couples pursue mediation in a timely manner. We know that every situation is different, so if you are unsure whether mediation or divorce is your best option, here are four questions to first ask yourself.
What Issues Are We Resolving?
First and foremost, it’s important to ask yourself what dispute you need help resolving. Separating couples are typically faced with four common divorce-related issues, including:
- Asset division
- Child custody and visitation
- Child support
- Alimony (spousal support)
In some cases, spouses may not see eye-to-eye on any of these issues, making it difficult to come to an agreement or find a middle ground. If you know for certain that neither you nor your spouse are willing to compromise your position, then divorce litigation may be necessary.
On the other hand, you may find that you and your spouse agree on certain aspects of your separation and have fewer issues in dispute. If this is the case, mediation may be the right choice in order to communicate your goals and find a solution for both parties.
What Is Our Relationship Like?
During times of separation, emotional conflicts can be incredibly high and difficult to contain, especially if the separation is due to financial difficulties or infidelity. Bitterness, anger, and resentfulness can impair a couple’s ability to meet in the middle with certain issues.
For some couples, anger and ill-will are not factors in their decision to separate. They may still even love their spouse, especially if the marriage lasted many years or if they share children together, but they agree that separation would be the best choice for both of them. If you have maintained an amicable relationship with your soon-to-be ex, mediation may be a clear option.
What Are My Goals?
It’s always important to understand your specific goals during separation. For some couples, a timely separation is extremely important, especially if you are currently sharing a home with your spouse.
With mediation, your separation can often be completed in a fraction of the time that would be spent going to court. Because it is a much swifter process, it usually results in lower legal fees and expenses when compared with litigation.
What If Things Change?
During a contested divorce, the family law judge presiding over the case will listen and look at all the evidence that both your attorney and your spouse’s attorney have presented. The judge will then make a final decision about your case, including matters of asset division, child custody, child support, and alimony.
If you want to go to divorce court, there is a possibility that results will be quite different than your original expectations. With mediation, all decisions can be done on your own terms and you maintain more control over the outcome.
Choosing the Right Solution for You
If you’re still not completely sure whether mediation or litigation is the right option for you, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Wisselman, Harounian & Associates for caring legal guidance personalized for your unique situation.
We are dedicated to helping you and your family plan for the future and seek a positive, effective solution that works best for your family. We have both skilled mediators and divorce litigation attorneys who can assist, whatever your needs.
All of us at Wisselman, Harounian & Associates value the health and safety of our clients, their families, and our local New York communities. We can offer virtual services during COVID-19 shutdowns and can help you learn more about your legal options from home or on the phone. As restrictions are eased, we are available for personal consultations under careful adherence to health and safety requirements.
Contact our Long Island legal team at (516) 406-8500 to get started on your case.