Jacqueline Newman Discusses Three Legal Options When Dissolving a Marriage
Divorce is often an emotionally charged and difficult process for the parties involved. Because there are so many variables involved in dissolving a marriage, divorce law is not “one size fits all.” Instead, there are several methods in New York State that divorcing couples may consider to best fit their needs.
Jacqueline Newman, a Managing Partner with Berkman Bottger Newman & Rodd, LLP, says that each situation is different for divorcing couples and, based on whether they can agree on division of property, visitation rights, and child support, all three options — litigation, mediation, and collaborative law — would be viable.
Litigation is usually the costliest and sometimes least efficient way to divorce. But, in situations in which couples cannot come to an agreement through other methods or negotiations, litigation may be the only option. Litigation does not necessarily mean that the parties are headed directly to trial, as cases are frequently settled before then. During the litigation process, issues surrounding child support, insurance, parenting arrangements, residences, etc. can be addressed by filing motions. These issues are then decided by the judge. If the issues are not resolved through negotiation, a trial date is set. A divorce trial may take days, weeks, or months.
If the parties are open and capable of working together towards resolution, mediation may be an appropriate way for spouses to dissolve their marriage. Mediation provides a non-adversarial forum in which there are no winners or losers. It encourages open dialogue between the parties. The mediator is an objective party with no interest in the outcome. While mediation is cost-effective, private, and saves time, it may not be appropriate for situations in which there is a power imbalance in the room, a spouse cannot speak for himself or herself or it is likely that a spouse is not going to be fully transparent with the financials.
Another litigation alternative, collaborative law, is a problem-solving process that encourages open communication between the parties involved. A middle ground between litigation and mediation, cooperative methods are used to help the parties reach an agreement. In order to take part in the collaborative process, the parties must sign a participation agreement stipulating provisions that bar litigation as an option or a negotiating tool and ensuring the parties will act in their children’s best interests and will not take advantage of each other. The goal of collaborative divorce is to resolve disputes constructively in a positive setting with just the parties and their attorneys present.
“Going through a divorce is a serious issue,” Ms. Newman says. “There is no cut-and-dry solution to dissolve a marriage. That is why there are various options couples can use when going through a divorce. If you are still unsure which process to use, please consult a matrimonial law attorney.”
For more information, call 212.867.9123 or visit www.berkbot.com.
Berkman Bottger Newman & Rodd, LLP, established in 1994, concentrates in divorce and family law. The firm is based in midtown Manhattan and serves clients across the greater New York area, including Westchester, Rockland, Nassau, and Suffolk Counties. For more information, call 212.867.9123 or visit www.berkbot.com.