Divorce Mediation Services
In addition to our firm’s superbly rated litigation attorneys, we also provide divorce mediation services with a team led by Richard Mandell, known nationally and statewide for his pioneering efforts in alternative dispute resolution. He is a former child support magistrate and is one of the most highly respected divorce mediators in New York State.
Richard Mandell founded the Orange County Mediation Project in 1982 (now Dispute Resolution Center) and trained family court mediators throughout his twenty-year career as a Support Magistrate. Since 2004, Mr. Mandell has been in private practice concentrating in matrimonial and family law, criminal law, mediation, and appeals.
In 2014 Richard Mandell was awarded the Outstanding Service Award from the Orange County Bar Association and he won its esteemed Liberty Bell Award in 2001. In 2002, he won the Rose Rosen Award from the Women’s Bar Association of Orange and Sullivan County for his work in creating the parenting class known as the PEACE Program (now called Parents Apart).
Mr. Mandell’s approach to divorce mediation emphasizes a co-mediation process in which two lawyers are at the table with the two spouses. Co-mediation is an established model which provides a greater opportunity for support and creative options while still providing a less expensive alternative to litigation.
Since going into private practice, Richard Mandell has completed over three hundred matrimonial mediation cases, many involving complex financial and custodial arrangements. When necessary, the firm can call on additional professionals such as financial planners and mental health professionals that offer additional services.
Divorce Mediation FAQs
Mediators are neutral facilitators who will help you work out the details of your Separation Agreement, typically over the course of three to five sessions. The issues that must be resolved involve sharing time with the children, dividing marital assets and setting appropriate amounts for child support and spousal maintenance.
Mediation is confidential in that the parties agree that mediators will not be called as witnesses in any future litigation. The parties promise not to call the mediators as witnesses when they sign the retainer agreement at the beginning of the process.
The mediators are permitted in New York State to file uncontested divorce documents if the parties agree that they do so. The lawyer-mediators also have to be sure that the agreement meets the parties’ expressed needs and is fair and reasonable and the parties sign a statement to that effect in their agreement. The mediator is not representing either or both parties for the divorce, he or she is only acting as a neutral.
By working together to resolve their issues, participants in mediation decide how to structure their lives after divorce instead of leaving these decisions to the courts. Parties can craft their own parenting and financial plans to meet their own individual needs rather than be bound by the requirements of the law.
All mediators in our firm are licensed attorneys with significant experience in both contested and uncontested matrimonial matters. There is no separate license for mediation in New York but all of our mediators have been certificated as having completed the New York State approved training program for matrimonial mediation in Supreme Court and all have completed the training in collaborative divorce sponsored by the Hudson Valley Collaborative Divorce Association. Richard Mandell developed the training protocol for divorce mediators in New York State and has been a lecturer in over fifty mediation training programs in New York and throughout the country.
After the Stipulation of Settlement has been signed, it is submitted to the court as part of the divorce judgment. The judgment of divorce incorporates the provisions of the agreement and it is then enforceable in the Supreme and Family courts.
The attorney-mediators will explain the applicable rules about maintenance and child support and the parties will make their own decisions after considering the law. Mediation is voluntary and each party should investigate and be aware of alternatives if they believe that mediation is not appropriate for them. The parties will be advised that a Supreme Court judge will not accept a judgment of divorce that does not adequately protect unemancipated children or one in which a financially dependant spouse has not been properly advised of his or her rights to spousal support.
In explaining the law our lawyer-mediators will describe the normative or typical outcomes in cases. Also, mediation participants will often use outside attorneys to review their agreement. Our lawyer-mediators can recommend such “review attorneys” if necessary.
You can begin mediation as soon as you have mutually decided to divorce, whether you are still residing together or not. Interim agreements, often called “move-out agreements” can be drafted to avoid the difficulties which come up in litigation when one party moves out before there is a court order.
The retainer agreement sets forth the financial arrangement between our firm and the divorcing couple. It sets forth the hourly rate and the amount required to be initially paid as the retainer. The retainer on a mediation case tends to be significantly less than the two parties would pay for two separate attorneys in a litigated divorce.
What if one of the parties has committed adultery or is perceived in some other way as having caused the break up of the marriage?
While this is a painful situation, most mediation participants choose to file for an uncontested divorce rather than allege adultery or misconduct as part of the grounds. In October, 2010, New York State became the last state to create “pure” no-fault grounds so generally fault grounds are no longer used. If relationship difficulties persist because of either the conduct or the feelings of either party, therapists trained in mediation can be brought in to assist in the discussions.
Call on Strauss & Kallus Law Office
Experienced attorneys, a dedicated staff, a place where your voice will be heard.
Call our Goshen, New York Law Office at 845.294.2616, or email us to schedule a confidential consultation with divorce lawyers Barbara J. Strauss and Harvey C. Kallus or mediator Richard Mandell.