Ask Your Family Law Attorneys: Are there alternatives to lengthy, expensive and often combative court proceedings?

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Stutman Stutman & Lichtenstein is New York’s and the Hampton’s top boutique law firm dedicated to the practice of matrimonial and family law. Partners Michael Stutman, Dana M. Stutman, and Kari Lichtenstein, and Of Counsel Lloyd M. Friedland, and their team of attorneys represent clients in all aspects of divorce, child custody and related matters, including complex financial matters, settlements, mediation, pre- and post-nuptial agreements, child support, post judgement proceedings, and surrogacy.

In this monthly column, they will answer questions from you – our readers — concerning these and related matters. One such reader asks:

“Are there alternatives to lengthy, expensive and often combative court proceedings?”

It’s a great question. We have all read and heard and maybe even experienced the horrors of a contentious divorce. Tensions and temperatures are soaring, anger is rampant, and incivility rules. Seemingly impregnable battle lines are drawn over every issue, from alimony to child custody, from who gets the Picasso to who gets the dog. The costs can be quite significant, and, on top of all this, they can take a few years to be adjudicated and finalized. There are options, however – and one that may especially appealing is Mediation.

There are several benefits to mediating a divorce.

  • Because the process is amicable and not contested, the ugliness that can come from litigation and that can irreparably damage the relationship between spouses is absent, thereby affording the spouses a better chance to move forward as successful co-parents and to preserve some semblance of a family for their children (and maybe themselves).
  • Mediation is also far less costly than litigation. Although a party may hire an attorney for consult during mediation and/or to review the final agreement, the cost of engaging an attorney in this capacity is substantially less than the high lawyer fees that are often incurred in a court matter.
  • Mediation is a far quicker process than pursuing a divorce case in court. The Judges are often overwhelmed with hundreds of cases and the matters move slowly through the court process, often taking years to reach the end. A mediated divorce case can proceed at the pace you and your spouse would like. If you can reach an agreement quickly, your divorce can be resolved in a matter of weeks rather than years.

It is important to note that mediation is not appropriate for every case, but if you think that you can work together with your soon-to-be ex-spouse to close the final chapter of your marriage, you can avoid the pitfalls of a contested divorce. Most importantly, you can protect your children from the hardship of having their parents pitted against each other in the next “War of the Roses.”

If you have questions for us, please send an email to [email protected]. We will feature one or two questions a month and offer our best advice. You may also visit our website In the meantime, please remember that divorce may seem like a daunting process, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.