And now, a word about our courts……

Consensus Point MediationIt’s the goal of this blog to provide useful information relating to the mediation of divorces and other family disputes.

This installment is actually an editorial – in favor of maintaining a well-funded court system in New York State (or in any other of the states for that matter). This may seem like an odd position coming from a mediator whose efforts are focused on the out-of-court settlements of divorces and other disputes.

Even in the mediation room the courts exert a powerful – and important – gravitational pull. A well-funded, respected and responsive court system is critical to the success of mediation in several important ways.

First, a mediated divorce settlement serves as the basis for obtaining a judgment of divorce from the courts. Speed is a valued aspect of the mediated divorce. Both the voluntary resolution and, in the case of a divorce proceeding, the subsequent court filing, review and approval process must work efficiently if the mediation is to remain an attractive alternative forum. It’s important for all involved that the courts are staffed to provide an adequate review of the filings presented to them.

Second, though domestic mediation is generally fast, efficient, and economical, when contrasted with a litigated solution, there are cases that may not be appropriate for this process. The courts are an essential venue for those individuals who feel they must have their day in court. For these parties, a robust court-based forum is a must.

Even when couples opt to mediate, it’s important that they have the confidence of knowing that should their mediation efforts founder, they can, at any point in the process, redirect their efforts through the court system.

Third, the courts play a vital role in clarifying statutes and in the articulation of rules with which these statutes are applied. While couples in mediation have considerable freedom to vary from many statutory standards and decisional rules, their knowledge of the manner in which the courts might rule in their particular circumstances is an important guide to the many decisions made in the course of mediation.

Fourth, but no less important, couples must be able to enter into Separation and Settlement Agreements with the full confidence that their voluntary agreements are enforceable by court order, should the need arise.

The court system is under persistent pressure to make staffing and budgetary reductions. Salaries were behind even before recent reductions and often, the physical plant suggests faded glory rather than a temple to justice. It’s true that there are difficult decisions to be made in allocating budgetary resources across state government in these difficult times, but our courts, however imperfect, are cornerstones of our democracy and an important part of what sets us apart from many nations. In short, the continued success of mediation depends on the vitality of our courts.

We invite any couple who wishes to learn more about the mediation process to call for a no fee – no commitment consultation where we will have an opportunity to describe the process to you and you will have an opportunity to ask us any questions you may have regarding the mediation process and its suitability to your particular circumstances.

Call (646) 340-3434 to schedule an appointment.

Feel free to ask any questions, to comment, or to request more information in the Comments Box below. Also, please feel free to forward this blog to anyone you know who might be interested in its topic.

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

Phone: (646) 340-3434


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3 Responses to And now, a word about our courts……

  • Sandi,
    Thank you for bringing up this major issue.
    May I add as well that being on the panel of mediators for the NY family courts , I know that many judges in the 5 boroughs support and encourage families to work out their custody and visitation agreements in mediation. Unfortunately many months ago the funding for this program was completely stopped.
    It has been reinstated with a very small budget and with only one mediation manager for all boroughs so a very minimal number of families benefit from mediation services Alas! Let’s hope that the situation will improve.

  • Sandy, you make a good point. Where the couple is not acting rationally, there must be a court available to manage the conflict. For those who are sensible, mediation is the best solution. Also, it pains me to tell couples who have just mediated all the complexities of their dissolution in a few hours that the pace of the court is comparatively glacial and they must now wait weeks or months for their judgment.

  • Daniel Burns says:

    Thanks for a thoughtful summary of why it is important, not only to those of us in the court system, but for all members of our society, to have an independent judiciary. If we do not provide the courts with the resources they need to do their job, we risk the loss of the freedoms that form our democracy. The rule of law, however imperfect it sometimes seems, is far preferable to the rule of an individual! Just look at what is happening in Syria and in many other countries around the world.

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