Lauren Bokor, Esquire
Specializing in Divorce Mediation
and Collaborative Law
212 876 9476
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Offices in Manhattan
and Westchester
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Frequently Asked Questions
What is Divorce Mediation?
In its simplest terms, it is a process to help the two of you address and successfully resolve the principal problem that you now find yourselves faced with, namely, how each of you (and your children) are going to be able to manage financially following your separation and divorce. However, unlike an adversarial divorce proceeding, it will not commit you to a long, bitter and costly struggle. Nor will it make adversaries of you, which will be of no help at all. Rather, it will provide you with a mediator who, acting as a neutral third party, will help the two of you address all of the questions concerning the custody and care of your children, the division of your assets, support, and the many other issues that should properly be resolved in your ultimate agreement. Just as importantly, its aim will be to leave you with an agreement that both of you feel you can live with, not an agreement that only meets the needs of one of you, as is so often the case when couples turn to the winner take world of adversarial divorce proceedings.

How long will it take?
As we all know, concluding an agreement in an adversarial divorce proceeding can take forever. In some instances, it can even take years. In divorce mediation, however, it only takes a fraction of that time. In fact, most couples will get to the point where it is possible for the lawyer they will be working with to prepare the initial draft of their agreement after only between three and five sessions.

What is the Cost?
As we all know, getting a divorce today can be very expensive. If the two of you turn to adversarial legal proceedings, it can cost a fortune. In fact, it is not uncommon for husbands and wives to each spend tens of thousands of dollars in order to get a divorce. And they can spend that amount even if they are not wealthy. Divorce mediation, on the other hand, does not cost a fortune, which is one of the reasons why more and more divorcing couples are turning to it. In most instances, it will cost only a small fraction of what an adversarial divorce proceeding will cost. Nor will there be any retainers to pay. In fact, the retainer charged by most divorce lawyers will be equal to or greater than the entire cost of a mediated divorce. Just as importantly, there will only be one fee for both of you, not two.

Of course, every situation involves different issues. For that reason, cost is generally a function of time, and the fee will be commensurate with the time it takes for the two of you to conclude an agreement, and with the level of complexity of that agreement. During the initial free consultation, after your mediator has an opportunity to meet with the two of you and to get a sense of the complexity of the issues involved, he or she will be able to give you an estimate of cost.

Will I be left with a legally binding agreement?
Yes. Agreements are binding upon people because they sign them, and because they are executed in the manner directed by the law. They are no more binding because they were concluded in an adversarial divorce proceeding, where they were each represented by separate lawyers, than they are when they are concluded in mediation, where they are assisted by one lawyer.

Do we owe it to our children?
Yes. Agreements are binding upon people because they sign them, and because they are executed in the manner directed by the law. They are no more binding because they were concluded in an adversarial divorce proceeding, where they were each represented by separate lawyers, than they are when they are concluded in mediation, where they are assisted by one lawyer.

Suppose I am not happy with mediation?
Unlike a judge, a mediator has no power. He (or she) does not have the power to make any decisions in your life. (Unlike a judge, he doesn't even have the power to make you attend the meetings.) That being the case, you are free to stand up and leave at any time. Thus, you do not have to worry whether your worst fears will be realized, or that the mediation will go in a direction that you do not like. Should that occur (and it very unlikely that it will), you are always free to terminate it. All that you have to do is stand up and leave. The same is not true with an adversarial divorce proceeding, however. To be sure, you may have all of the power to start it. However, once it has begun, it takes on a life of its own. Moreover, rather than being the principal players, as you will be in divorce mediation, the two of you will be but bit players in the wings of the drama that you have set in motion. As those who have turned to adversarial legal proceedings will tell you, you will literally have no control over those proceedings. On the contrary, it will become like a runaway train, and it will be almost impossible for either of you to stop it. The question that you really should be asking yourself, therefore, is what you will do if you are not happy with the adversarial divorce proceedings that you have set in motion? Unfortunately, since you will have lost all control of those proceedings once you have started them, there is no answer to that question. That is very frightening.

How do I choose a mediator?
Unlike a judge, a mediator has no power. He (or she) does not have the power to make any decisions in your life. (Unlike a judge, he doesn't even have the power to make you attend the meetings.) That being the case, you are free to stand up and leave at any time. Thus, you do not have to worry whether your worst fears will be realized, or that the mediation will go in a direction that you do not like. Should that occur (and it very unlikely that it will), you are always free to terminate it. All that you have to do is stand up and leave. The same is not true with an adversarial divorce proceeding, however. To be sure, you may have all of the power to start it. However, once it has begun, it takes on a life of its own. Moreover, rather than being the principal players, as you will be in divorce mediation, the two of you will be but bit players in the wings of the drama that you have set in motion. As those who have turned to adversarial legal proceedings will tell you, you will literally have no control over those proceedings. On the contrary, it will become like a runaway train, and it will be almost impossible for either of you to stop it. The question that you really should be asking yourself, therefore, is what you will do if you are not happy with the adversarial divorce proceedings that you have set in motion? Unfortunately, since you will have lost all control of those proceedings once you have started them, there is no answer to that question. That is very frightening.

 

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