When spouses call me these days they are usually looking for direction.
They have decided to divorce, and have googled and researched everything
about divorce, but they are not sure what to do. They have read about
going to court, negotiation and mediation. Many of them are confused and
not sure what will work best for their family.
When considering divorce most spouses are usually familiar with going to
court and fighting. But more and more clients are learning there are more
peaceful and less expensive options, and they are choosing them.
As a divorce attorney and medically-trained mediator for over 35 years,
I hear during consultations spouses asking more, and more about the difference
between “litigation” and “mediation”.
Many spouses still just want to fight. They don’t know any other
way. They only see “red” and nothing is going to change that
or their approach. But for those open to a non-adversarial option, there
is a more positive, productive and peaceful solution – it’s
Both paths, litigation and mediation will lead to a divorce, but how you
get will be very different!
Let me tell you about Litigation and mediation.
Under the traditional system, imported from England originally, couples
went to court to obtain a divorce.
Each spouse hires his or her own "advocate," and they engage
in what is normally an adversarial process. The steps can include negotiation
between the attorneys. If or when this is not working, there is always
the threat of
"going to court," where a judge will make decisions about all
the issues, including custody and visitation, child support, spousal support,
and the division of property.
The court process is particularly daunting. It includes serving a summons
and complaint, an answer, and exchanging financial information and documents.
This exchange is called "discovery," and it is, in fact, a way
to find out the facts about the parties' finances. It can include
subpoenas served on banks, businesses, and third parties. It may also
include applications made to the court for various types of relief, such
as temporary child and spousal support,
interim custody, and counsel fees.
Once you get locked into the system, it is extremely hard to find your
way out. It is expensive, time-consuming, and emotionally draining. Ultimately,
it may be the only vehicle for warring couples of a certain ilk. In some
cases I call this the vehicle used to “punish”. This path
is often attractive to spouses who want revenge, enjoy conflict, and seek
to maintain control over the other spouse.
This path to divorce involves working with an unbiased mediator, usually
a lawyer, whose function it is to assist a couple in a peaceful process,
to make decisions together at and arrive at an agreement that is fair
to both. For people who have never experienced it, mediation is surprisingly
and stunningly effective. It is quick, inexpensive, and not
adversarial. It is a three-part process, consisting of the negotiations,
the preparation of an agreement, and preparation and submission of the
divorce documents to a judge for signature.
In the last decade, mediation has become the popular choice of many divorcing
couples, especially millennials. In fact, during the pandemic, while the
courts have been closed, couples have been calling and asking me a lot
It has been particularly difficult for disgruntled couples sheltering in
place to continue in an already unhappy marriage. For some in abusive
relationships, continuing to struggle in the marriage is no longer acceptable.
These days, since many are still working at home, I have phone consultations
with spouses sitting in their cars, calling from the lobby of their building
or from outside seating at their local diner for privacy from their spouse.
I am happy to guide spouses on how to safely and securely remove themselves
from an unhappy marriage.
You do have options. Learn what they are, and gain the strength to leave
a marriage that no longer makes you happy.
If you are thinking of divorcing and would like to discuss litigation vs.
mediation, call me. We can discuss the details of your marriage and select
the best option for you.
For those of you not quite ready for divorce there are other options, like
a legal separation or postnuptial agreement. These avenues can be explored
and are effective as well.
Call me today and we can discuss the right option for you. My consultations,
which are free, are one hour, discreet, informative, and comprehensive.
FREE 1 HOUR CONSULTATIONS are conveniently conducted virtually to reduce risk.
We still have some appointments available for this week.
I look forward to helping you.
Stay healthy and safe!
When it comes to your future and that of your family, don’t leave
anything to chance. Learn about the best divorce option for you from New
York Divorce Lawyer Lois M. Brenner, Esq.
Do it now! Call 212.734.1551.