What are my Divorce Options?

In order to obtain a divorce in New York, all issues regarding distribution of marital assets and debts, child-custody, child-support, and spousal-support must be resolved.  There are several ways to resolve these issues.  Spouses may elect to do it themselves by negotiating the terms of their divorce without the assistance of a third-party such as a mediator, arbitrator, attorney, or judge.  However, if spouses are unable to successfully negotiate all terms of their divorce, they may then proceed to have their case mediated, arbitrated, or litigated.  Each option has both benefits and shortcomings, which is why choosing a divorce option that best suits your needs and interests is crucial, and may end up saving you unnecessary time & money.

What is the “Do-It-Yourself” Approach?

The “Do-It-Yourself” approach is exactly as it sounds.  Spouses do it themselves by negotiating the terms of their divorce and deciding who needs and who wants what.  If you and your spouse are able to address theses issues amicably, this approach is extremely cost effective.  The major downside to this approach is often times, either both spouses, or worse one spouse, does not possess the legal knowledge to adequately protect their rights and interests.  In that instance, retaining an Limited-Scope Attorney may be helpful.

What is a Limited-Scope Attorney?

A Limited-Scope Attorney is an attorney that represents a client for limited purposes such as document preparation, review, and/or legal counseling and coaching.  This approach affords spouses the benefit of an attorney without the cost of a full-representation arrangement. While this approach is less costly than many of the other options, it may not be suitable in all instances.

What is Divorce Mediation?

Divorce mediation is a voluntary process where a third-party neutral helps spouses negotiate with one another by facilitating communication between them and addressing the individual needs of both the spouses and their children.  Divorce mediators are generally familiar with divorce law and act as an agent of reality throughout the negotiation stage of the mediation.  Generally, mediation provides a wide-array of benefits to spouses.  First, it saves spouses time.  Second, it saves spouses money.  Third, it can be less stressful than litigation.  Fourth, it is less burdensome for spouses in terms of schedule since most mediators will conduct sessions after work or on weekends.  Last and most important, because divorce mediators are generally familiar with divorce law, spouses are provided with legal knowledge necessary to protect their rights and interests.  A downside to mediation is the potential for impasse, which occasionally happens where an abnormally high level of contention is present.   

What is Arbitration?

Arbitration is a voluntary process where a third-party neutral acts as a judge in your case.  Given the authoritative role of an arbitrator, it is important to hire an arbitrator who has extensive experience and knowledge in divorce law.  The benefit of arbitration is having someone decide your case without having to go to court.  It is also a more private and convenient forum for spouses to have their case heard.  The downsides to arbitration are, one it may be more costly than the “do-it-yourself” or mediation approach, and two, because not all issues can be arbitrated, it does not promote finality.

What about a Hybrid Option?     

Yes, there is a process whereby some issues may be resolved through mediation, while others through arbitration.  This process is typically referred to as “Med-Arb” or “Arb-Med” depending on the approach.  This approach offers a wide array of options for parties because unlike strict arbitration, all issues can be addressed.  A downside to this approach is that if all issues are not resolved then the parties will need to litigate outstanding issues.

What is Litigation?

Litigation is an adversarial process where each party obtains independent counsel to either negotiate the terms of their divorce or go into court and argue their client’s position.  Litigation can be extremely time consuming and on average takes anywhere from 1 to 3 years.  Litigation can also be costly ranging anywhere from $15,000.00 to $100,000.00 in legal fees.   

Let Us Help You Decide

All divorce cases vary in facts and circumstances and therefore it is strongly recommend that you seek the assistance of an attorney before deciding the divorce option most suitable for your case.  As part of its commitment to assisting divorcing couples in making this decision, this firm offers a free case evaluation.  You can click the below link to submit your inquiry electronically or you can call us toll free at (877) 631 – 7919.

Please note that once all issues have been resolved, you are not legally divorced and will be required to file necessary paperwork with the Court before the issuance of a final Judgment of Divorce.  Please further note that the sole purpose of the Free Case Evaluation is to assist individuals in determining the divorce option most suitable for their individual needs and interests and that submission of any information through the use of any forms contained on this site does not automatically create an attorney/client relationship.