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Rockland & Westchester County Divorce Lawyer > Blog > Divorce > What is Mandatory Presumptive Mediation in New York State?

What is Mandatory Presumptive Mediation in New York State?


In 2019, New York State passed a rule requiring the majority of couples to mediate their divorces prior to litigating them in court. Mediation is a negotiation process that is handled by a neutral third party who helps the couple draft a divorce decree that addresses all major issues related to their divorce. Litigation, by contrast, is a court battle in which attorneys representing either side make arguments before a judge who renders all final decisions. Due to a backlog of divorce cases, New York adopted a policy to reduce the amount of litigated divorces in the state by requiring couples (in the majority of cases) to attempt mediation prior to litigating. While similar rules were in place at the county level, it wasn’t until 2019 that New York had a statewide policy affecting all courts.

This is known as mandatory presumptive mediation. Couples pursuing a divorce can choose their own mediators without waiting for the courts to provide them with one. The mediator can help the couple resolve some or all of their issues before taking the matter in front of a judge.

The benefits of mediation in New York State 

In mediation, couples resolve issues such as the distribution of the marital estate and assets held in common, alimony, child custody arrangements and visitation, and child support payments. Mediation is not always appropriate for every divorce case. However, mediation can be successful even when parties do not reach a comprehensive agreement. Even settling one of the four major issues that need to be resolved in a divorce leaves the couple in a better position than they were in before. Even when no issues can be resolved, the couple will end up with a better understanding of the other party’s positions and the strengths and weaknesses of their own case. In other words, it helps move things in the right direction.

That being said, there are many benefits to resolving your issues in mediation. For one, couples who can reach an agreement in mediation will find their divorce moves faster than those who don’t. This, in turn, cuts down on legal fees paid to lawyers. If a couple can resolve all of their issues in mediation, they may not have to pay for their own separate lawyers. Another major benefit is that the decision-making power resides in the hands of the spouses. In a litigated divorce, the judge has the final say on important matters such as asset distribution, child custody, and more.

So, in addition to helping the courts keep the backlog of cases at a minimum, you are also saving yourself time and money by pursuing a mediated divorce as opposed to litigation. That being said, some divorces must be litigated. Those include divorces where there is a major power imbalance between the two spouses or allegations of child abuse or spousal abuse. A Rockland County divorce lawyer can help you decide which path is right for you.

Talk to a Rockland County Divorce Attorney Today 

The Law Offices of Robert S. Sunshine represents the interests of divorcing couples. Call our Westchester County family law attorneys today to schedule an appointment, and we can discuss important issues related to your divorce right away.

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