Monthly Archives: January 2018

A New Year, A New Start Through Mediation

{3:48 minutes to read} For many spouses who have been contemplating marital mediation, the period after the first of the year seems to be a popular time to initiate the process.

A New Year, A New Start Through Mediation by Sandy Balick

Many things have to come together for a couple to agree to enter the mediation process and December’s passing removes many barriers so that people can focus on this challenging task. In reality, many couples will already have been discussing the prospect of separation and divorce and may have referred to online materials in order to educate themselves about the process.

Ideally, approaching the first mediation involves some preparation. It helps if the couple has had a consult with the mediator they will be using so they have some sense of how the process unfolds and their respective roles in the mediation.

Because mutual financial disclosure is such an important underpinning of the marital mediation process, it is helpful to start gathering financial documents of all kinds prior to the first session. This would include not only several years worth of tax returns but recent account statements for every asset, debt, credit/debit account, retirement funds, etc. that either or both spouses maintain. This strikes some people as unusual because they presume that the couple must already have a thorough grasp of one another’s finances. Experience suggests, however, that this is not always the case.

It’s also especially helpful for spouses/partners to have some notion of their working budgets. This is not so much a joint budget, but a projection of expenses likely to be incurred upon separation, and is especially critical where children are involved.

It is common knowledge that making two households from a single one in the New York metropolitan area may be an expensive proposition. The parties will make important financial decisions in the course of the mediation, and it is important for these decisions to be supported by available resources. Mediators typically provide their clients with a convenient form to use in this process.

It is considered a good practice to obtain a legal consult around the time the mediation gets underway. While mediators are able to provide important legal information to the parties, they can’t provide individual legal advice, such as providing a spouse with an opinion as to the strengths/weaknesses of her/his particular case, were it to be litigated. For this purpose, a preliminary consult with individual counsel may serve as an important source of support and clarity at the start of the mediation and counsel may be called upon, as needed, for assistance throughout the process. This should extend to a review of any negotiated agreement following the conclusion of the mediation.

While mediators may differ a bit in their approaches to the mediation process, couples can facilitate and perhaps even shorten the number of sessions required by being conscientious in their preparations. However, it’s also important for couples not to over-prepare – it is not a scripted, perfectly linear process, so participants should bring an open mind and flexibility to the table.

Sanford (Sandy) Balick, Attorney & Mediator, NY Sandy Balick signature
Sanford E. Balick, Esq.
Founder & Principal Mediator
Consensus Point Mediation, LLC.

Phone: (646) 340-3434