Woman and Man sitting in divorce lawyer's office

What to Look for in a New York Divorce Mediator

By Michael DiFalco

Divorce is always stressful, no matter who you are (or who you’re divorcing!). It’s essential to make sure you have an exceptional, experienced divorce mediator. 

When spouses begin discussing the possibility of a divorce, many consider mediation as an alternative to a high-conflict, costly litigation system. Mediation can help parties reach an agreement on how to divvy up their most precious assets, determine support and address the custody and parenting time issues with any children. You and your spouse will need to find the right divorce mediator for you in order to ensure that the process is as efficient, painless and respectful as possible. 

Divorce Mediation Fees

Divorce can be expensive and mediation is an alternative method of resolving the issues while saving money on legal fees. 

If you decide to go the private route and undergo the mediation process, you should consider working with a mediator who is a practicing divorce attorney. Relying on the experience of litigating and negotiating cases as an advocate for their clients, an experienced divorce lawyer brings a different perspective to mediation. 

Mediation fees often depend on how complex your situation is. Mediation can cost between $3,000-8,000 on average.

In some simple cases, a flat fee may be appropriate, especially where there are limited issues to be resolved in mediation and the parties are already in agreement on most of the relevant issues. Most mediations involve hourly charges for time spent in mediation sessions, correspondence and communications with the parties and drafting an agreement or other divorce documents. 

In more complex matters, mediation often involves parties who are also represented by consulting attorneys who review the agreement and suggest revisions or provide other legal advice to their client while they try to resolve the divorce through mediation. 

Why You Should Use a Private Mediator During Your Divorce

Divorce proceedings are costly, financially and emotionally. 

Choosing a private mediator means that you and your partner will be able to chart your own course through the divorce process with the help of a capable guide. You will also be able to choose a mediator whose personality, skill set, and specializations are tailored to your specific circumstances. 

There are mediation services available through the courts and New York has adopted a presumptive to attempting mediation even in cases that wind up in court (except in cases where the judge determines it would be inappropriate, for example where domestic violence is an issue). However, these programs are new and vary by county, so a private mediation is still the most common and efficient way to resolve your case.

 You and your partner will not be able to choose a mediator who is experienced in navigating your specific circumstances.

Difference Between Private Mediation and Arbitration

Many people use the terms “private mediation” and “arbitration” interchangeably because both processes are meant to help resolve cases outside of court. 

In this way, they both exist in the realm of alternative dispute resolution, also known as ADR. However, arbitration and private mediation could not be more different. In New York, there is no real civil arbitration system for divorce cases and it is far more common when resolving personal injury or contract disputes.

During mediation, the spouses who are undergoing the process of divorce maintain control over the mediation process. The purpose of the mediator is just that — to mediate or facilitate a conversation between the two parties on specific disagreements and concerns that they have within the divorce process. The divorcing spouses collaborate and share ideas in order to write an agreement that they both consent to. 

During arbitration, it is the arbitrator — not the spouses — who has all of the power over the proceedings. The arbitrator examines evidence and concerns from each party before issuing a ruling.

Mediators are not arbitrators nor are they the “judge”. They are there to help explain some of the laws and how they might apply while facilitating an open discussion of how the parties might want to resolve their issues in a final divorce agreement. 

Finding a Great Divorce Mediator

If you live in the Garden City, New York, area and are looking for a divorce mediator to make your divorce process as painless and fair as possible for you and your partner, contact Aiello & DiFalco LLP.

About the Author
I am a partner at Aiello & DiFalco LLP, and my priority for my clients is to guide them through an arduous court case to provide them with the opportunity to write the next chapter in their life. I tailor my approach to each client’s priorities and positions, and to the extent that matters can be predicted, I will always provide a realistic perspective of how the law could be applied to the particular facts and circumstances of a case. Since I thrive on helping people and solving problems, I bring an optimistic and positive approach to practicing in a very difficult area of law. With more than a decade of experience handling hundreds of cases, I have the ability to get results on the issues my clients view as priorities. When cases or certain issues cannot be settled, I have a solid record of success at trials, hearings, and on appeals. Feel free to contact me for a free initial consultation, I am always available to help.