Three Types of Divorce in NY

Parents contemplating divorce may have visions of contentious court appearances, stubborn spouses, and emotionally injured children. Yes, all this is possible, but none of it is inevitable. Much depends on the willingness of each party to compromise and do what’s best for the children. Therefore, New York parents thinking about getting a divorce should know that there are essentially three options available to them.

1. Mediation

An alternative to court, mediation is a proceeding where a neutral party (known as a mediator) guides a couple through the divorce process. The mediator helps the couple find compromise and agreement on the outstanding issues of their divorce. A mediator is not required to be a lawyer, and couples should know that the mediator they choose definitely isn’t their lawyer. A mediator’s job is to remain neutral, while a spouse’s lawyer is an advocate who wants a settlement that is best for his client.

Pros and Cons of Mediation

Mediation has several advantages, not least of which is the avoidance of a messy litigation process. Mediation is usually less expensive and faster than litigation. If you’re on cordial relations with your spouse, and you feel safe in assuming there won’t be contentious fights over the children or assets, then mediation might be a good option.

On the other hand, if you and your spouse can’t agree on a variety of issues, then mediation can prolong an already difficult process that may still result in litigation.

One concern in mediation: Do you have all of the relevant financial and other information? Because mediation is voluntary, so, too, is the evidence that’s provided. Therefore, there is a possibility that you might not learn about all of the relevant assets when making your decisions. If you are not fully familiar with the financial issues in your marital estate mediation is probably not a good fit for you.

Finally, mediation depends heavily on the quality of the mediator. A poorly equipped mediator might draft a lopsided or legally unsound settlement. Mediators are trained to reach an agreement between the parties regardless of whether the agreement is reasonable from a legal perspective. So at the very least, you should have an attorney review any mediation agreements (m.o.u.) before you finally sign off. For most situations, it’s probably best to choose an option where you have a lawyer representing your interests throughout the process.

2. Collaborative

In a collaborative divorce, each spouse chooses a collaborative divorce lawyer to negotiate the issues of the divorce; then the lawyers work out the agreement. To do so, they may call on outside experts–such as financial experts and child specialists–to assist during the deliberations. The retention of a family professional is required by the participation agreement.

Pros and Cons of Collaborative Divorce

The benefits of a collaborative divorce are akin to mediation. It can be cheaper and quicker. It also saves you and the children from the rigors of a contentious and prolonged court battle.

Why would one choose collaborative divorce over mediation? Mostly to avoid the potential hazards of a mediator mentioned above. Some couples would rather trust the settlement in the hands of experienced lawyers.

The wrinkle in this process is that, if negotiations fail and the couple reaches an impasse, then both lawyers must withdraw. That usually means starting from Square One, with a new lawyer and probably litigation. The parties must be fully committed to the negotiation process.

We should note that whether you’re considering mediation or a collaborative divorce, both options work best when the decision to divorce is mutual: They rely heavily on the cooperation and goodwill of each spouse.

However, if you have animosity towards your spouse, if there’s a history of abuse, or you feel strongly about limiting your children’s time with your spouse, then these choices are less likely to lead to an effective resolution.

3. Litigation

Mediation and collaboration are voluntary procedures, and the result is a legal contract that both parties agree to. In litigation, a judge makes the decisions, and the result is a court decree, and its terms are imposed on each spouse–even if against their will.

Pros and Cons of Litigation

Litigation has a bad reputation for all the obvious reasons. No one wants a public court battle, and the outcome might not be in your favor. Still, it’s the most common type of divorce, despite its many drawbacks. The reason is that most divorces aren’t mutual; one spouse isn’t ready to end the marriage, give up assets or lose his children.

You shouldn’t avoid litigation just because you want to stay out of court. Particularly in a case where your spouse doesn’t want a divorce, litigation may be the only way to get what you and your children deserve.

But even litigation doesn’t always mean you’ll end up in court.

Most litigated divorces never reach the courtroom because both parties still come to a voluntary agreement. Obviously, this is the preferred outcome, and a good divorce lawyer will usually do what she can to reach a settlement.

Sometimes, just the threat of the lawsuit is enough to make a stubborn spouse come to terms during negotiations.

What’s Best for Your Family?

When it comes to choosing the right divorce option, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all. Your decision on which of the types of divorce in NY you should choose depends on your unique circumstances:

  • Is the decision to divorce mutual or one-sided?
  • Do you want to maintain a long-term relationship with your spouse, or do you just want out?
  • Does your spouse have a history of deceit or abuse?
  • Is money or privacy a concern?

Learn More About the Different Types of Divorce in NY

Weigh these questions carefully, and when you’re ready, speak to an experienced divorce lawyer. No matter which of the types of divorce in NY you are considering, discussing your options with an attorney can help you decide which is best for you and your children.

types of divorce in NY, Albany NYShould I Consider Mediation For My Divorce in Albany NY?

Divorce is often associated with heated court battles that take years to resolve. But in reality, most divorces are settled with little acrimony or fanfare. Many couples have simply grown apart and want to quickly resolve their outstanding financial and family issues so they can move on with their lives. For these couples, divorce mediation may be a helpful alternative to traditional litigation.

How Does Mediation Work?

In litigation, two parties submit their dispute to a judge, who conducts a formal trial according to certain laws. With mediation, a couple that wishes to separate or divorce works with a neutral third party–a mediator–to reach a voluntary agreement. The mediator is not a judge or an arbitrator. They will not decide any issues for the couple. The mediator’s role is strictly to facilitate discussion and, if requested, draw up a final agreement detailing the terms agreed to by the parties.

How Is Mediation Beneficial?

If mediation is successful, you can avoid going to court, except to receive approval of any final settlement and the official divorce decree. There is no need for a trial. This means you can keep your divorce largely private–there will be no public airing of “dirty laundry.” Mediation is strictly confidential.

Mediation also offers you a greater degree of flexibility. Some couples decide to reach a separation agreement, leaving open the possibility of reconciliation at some future date. Keep in mind, however, that mediation is not a substitute for marital therapy. The goal of mediation is to address outstanding legal issues such as child custody and distribution of property, not resolve any lingering emotional issues between the parties.

When Is Litigation Preferable to Mediation?

Mediation presumes a certain degree of respect and good faith among the parties. If there is a history domestic abuse or violence in the marriage, mediation may not be advisable. Similarly, if one party is known to be hiding assets or engaged in financial misconduct, litigation may be necessary to fully protect the other spouse’s rights. And in some cases mediation simply fails, and a judge may have to resolve certain issues that remain in dispute.

Do I Still Need an Attorney?

Even if you opt for mediation, it is still a good idea to work with an experienced Albany divorce lawyer before finalizing any settlement. While a mediator can draft an agreement, they cannot separately advise each party as to their legal rights and responsibilities. Even if you do not wish to litigate, an attorney can help ensure your mediation agreement is successful. Call The Colwell Law Group, LLC, today at if you need help with either mediation or litigation, or to learn more about the different types of divorce in NY and which is best for you.

How Mediation Can Help Your Divorce

When you think of divorce proceedings in New York, you may picture a packed courtroom, fighting attorneys, and angry spouses fighting over alimony, asset division, and care for minor children. While this may draw ratings on TV and in the movies, the fact is that many couples choose mediation as an amicable, efficient method for handling their divorce.

New York Family Court Divorce Mediation is a highly successful approach to resolving many issues in a divorce as it offers many advantages for your family and your future. You should talk to an experienced Schenectady County divorce lawyer about mediation benefits in your specific situation, but it may be useful to review the answers to some common questions about the process.

What Is Mediation?

In the divorce setting, mediation is a process you may choose to resolve the issues and disputes that may arise during dissolution of marriage proceedings. New York divorce laws encourage parties to agree wherever possible on asset division, alimony, and issues regarding minor children, but compromise can be difficult when emotions take over.

Mediation is an informal process that takes place before a neutral party who is trained to facilitate conversations and help spouses overcome challenges. The mediator does not take sides or decide who is wrong or right on divorce issues, since the focus is on solutions that will work to benefit all parties and their futures. A mediator can help both parties reach an agreement that is custom-tailored to their specific needs, instead of having a court step in and apply impersonal laws.

In New York divorce cases, mediation is voluntary. There are certain procedural requirements to kick off the process and you must work with a court-approved mediation program, which depends upon the county where you file for divorce.

How Can Mediation Help With Certain Divorce Disputes?

Of the different types of divorce in NY, mediation is useful in pinpointing the primary areas of dispute and assisting parties with prioritizing their issues. Divorcing couples are in a better position to decide which matters are more important and which areas they are more willing to compromise. A trained mediator guides discussion and encourages productive conversation on:

  • Alimony, including the amount, duration, and how funds are spent;
  • Distribution of assets acquired during the marriage; and,
  • Custody, visitation, and support for minor children.

Where parties to a divorce successfully work through their disputes, a court will enter an appropriate order. The only caveat is that any issues related to minor children must pass muster under the child’s best interests standard. If mediation does not resolve all issues or only resolves some, the dispute may still go before a court for determination.

Consult With a Skilled New York Mediation Lawyer Regarding Divorce

Mediation can help with many areas in a divorce case, but it is not suitable for situations involving domestic violence or other matters. If you are a party to a divorce in New York and want to know more about how mediation may resolve disputes in your case, please contact The Colwell Law Group, LLC. We can schedule a confidential consultation with a Schenectady County family lawyer to review appropriate legal options.

Do’s and Don’ts of Divorce Mediation

When you think of divorce, you may imagine you and your spouse yelling in a courtroom. While the media portrays divorce as a screaming match between the spouses, it doesn’t have to be that way. More and more couples are looking to divorce in a civilized manner, especially when children are involved.

Collaborative divorce is becoming more common. Spouses are using mediation and other forms of alternative dispute resolution to solve problems and come up with solutions that benefit everyone involved. Mediation uses a neutral third party—a mediator—to answer questions and move the process along so issues are resolved quickly.

Mediation works best for couples who have the right attitude. It requires hard work and compromise on both ends. Ultimately though, it may help provide the best outcome for the parties involved.

What to Do During New York Divorce Mediation

Successful mediation starts with the right attitude. Therefore, you should start by acting in a positive and civil manner. Put aside your feelings and think about the issues that need to be resolved. Be willing to compromise. You may not be able to get everything you want, and neither will your spouse.

Think about the issue from the other spouse’s perspective. Make your feelings clear, but try to come to a solution that you can both agree on. If children are involved, make sure you focus on what is best for them—not necessarily you.

Be sure to come prepared. If you are at odds over a certain issue, come with several solutions. Be flexible.

What Not to Do During Mediation

There are some things you should avoid doing during mediation in order to reach a resolution outside of court. First, avoid name-calling and yelling. No matter how bitter you are about the divorce, you need to stay civil. Acting angrily toward the other party will not help you resolve your issues.

Don’t bring up issues that happened in the past. Even though you may still be angry about something your spouse did, you need to focus on current issues. Keep a cool head and avoid lashing out.

Don’t ignore the other party. When he or she is talking, do not interrupt. When the other party is raising concerns, take them seriously.

Don’t be difficult. If the mediator needs some information from you or the other party asks you a question, give the required information without getting angry. Don’t turn mediation into an all-or-nothing situation. It’s not all about you, so be prepared to make concessions on various issues.

Contact an Albany Divorce Lawyer Today

Divorce does not have to be lengthy and contentious. If you’re looking to divorce amicably, mediation can be helpful. You do, however, need to have an open mind about the process or else you could still end up in court.

A New York lawyer at The Colwell Law Group can help you avoid the courtroom and finalize your divorce quickly and easily. Give us a call today to learn more about mediation.

types of divorce in NY, Albany NYWhat Is a Collaborative Divorce?

The phrase “collaborative divorce” may sound odd at first. After all, when you think of divorce you do not think about “collaboration.” Instead, you imagine angry spouses battling it out in court over every last detail.

But not all divorces are acrimonious or litigious. In many cases a marriage has simply run its course and the parties wish to separate in as amicable a manner as possible. Especially in cases where parents want to minimize the emotional strain of divorce on their children (and themselves), it may be in everyone’s best interest to avoid a long, expensive, and public trial. This is where collaborative divorce–also known as collaborative family law–can help.

Collaborative Family Law vs. Mediation

Collaborative law is not the same thing as mediation, which is another option some divorcing couples use. In mediation, a neutral third party meets with the spouses and helps them reach an agreement about any outstanding issues. While the parties may retain attorneys, they generally do not play an active role, and the mediator does not give individual legal advice.

With collaborative law, both spouses hire their own attorneys, who actively assist them throughout the process. The lawyers and parties work together to identify any issues that need to be resolved–division of marital assets, spousal support, child custody, etc.–and attempt to negotiate a settlement. While the collaborative law attorneys represent their individual clients, they are not there to encourage litigation. To the contrary: if the collaborative process fails and one spouse chooses to go to court, the attorneys for both sides must withdraw, requiring the parties to retain new counsel. And any disclosures or concessions made during the collaborative process cannot be used by either spouse in any subsequent litigation.

When Is Collaborative Divorce Not the Right Choice?

Collaborative family law requires both parties act in good faith and on equal terms. If there is a history of domestic violence or abuse in the marriage, a collaborative divorce is unlikely to succeed. The process cannot work if one spouse is living in fear of the other, or if there is a significant power imbalance in the relationship.
Even if the collaborative process fails, litigation does not inevitably mean a protracted court battle. In fact, most litigated divorces are still settled without a trial. An experienced Albany collaborative divorce lawyer can review your situation and help you decide whether collaborative family law is a viable option. Call The Colwell Law Group, LLC to schedule a no risk consultation with one of our attorneys today.

Benefits of Collaborative Divorce

There is no law that says divorce must be acrimonious. Instead, many couples have found that taking a collaborative approach has worked best, ensuring that they remain on speaking terms after the divorce so that they can successfully co-parent.

At the Colwell Law Group, we practice collaborative divorce, which might be an ideal option for you. To learn more, please contact us today.

Collaborative Divorce Explained

Collaborative divorce is an approach that emphasizes finding common ground rather than relying on adversarial litigation strategies. Many couples will try mediation at least once in their divorce, where they meet with a neutral third party to discuss their dispute. But collaborative divorce emphasizes working together throughout the entire process. Collaborative divorce is not a one-time event like mediation often is.

Features of collaborative divorce include:

  • A commitment to doing what is right for the couple’s children.
  • Communicating fairly and without trying to take advantage of any mistakes the other side makes.
  • A commitment by lawyers to managing any disagreements in a fair and creative manner.
  • A prohibition on any party making unilateral decisions regarding the marital property while the collaborative divorce negotiation is taking place.
  • The use of neutral experts, such as accountants, if they are needed.

If all goes well, a couple can come up with an agreement on all key issues, including child custody, child support, alimony, and the division of marital property and debts. Each spouse will sign the agreement and submit it to the judge for approval.

Reasons to Choose Collaborative Divorce

Couples who engage in collaborative divorce often report high satisfaction with the process. There are many reasons to choose collaborative divorce:

  • It is often faster than a contested divorce. You can save time and money.
  • It is less stressful. In a contested divorce, you have no idea what a judge will decide. With a collaborative divorce, you have more of a say in the outcome.
  • Your concerns will be heard, and your spouse agrees to listen to them in good faith.
  • Because everyone agrees to do what is best for the children, there are no opportunities to take a “cheap shot” at your spouse’s parenting skills.

Couples are often better able to co-parent after a collaborative divorce because they are the ones who agreed to the terms. This provides extra incentive to follow through.

Some Types of Divorce in NY Are Not for Everyone

Although most people can benefit from collaborative divorce, there are some situations where it might not be ideal. For example, your spouse might be abusive and terrorizing. In that situation, it will be very difficult to sit down and reach an agreement on the details of a divorce since you are terrified of them. Instead, you probably need a protective order against your spouse.

Contact an Experienced Dutchess County Collaborative Divorce Attorney

If you are interested in collaborative divorce, please reach out to us today. The Colwell Law Group has helped innumerable couples obtain a satisfying divorce, and we are eager to discuss the process with you.

For more information, feel free to schedule a consultation with one of our lawyers.


Our Beliefs in Family Law Litigation

Family law is probably the most sensitive type of law that any lawyer can practice. That’s because human hearts are on the line. The positions that people take in family law matters do not always make sense from a logical perspective because of emotions, attachments, love, sadness and heartache all factor into the equation.

At the Colwell Law Group, we strive to balance all of our clients’ emotional needs with the cold, hard reality of the law. At all times, we listen to our clients’ concerns while educating them about the law, what is likely possible in their cases and what is for them and their families’ best interests.

Our Four-Fold Plan for You

  1. Listen closely: The most important part of any attorney-client relationship is an attorney who listens. We will listen to your story and ask all the appropriate questions until we’re satisfied we have the complete picture of your case, your legal needs and your personal goals.
  2. Develop a strategy: Once we know your situation intimately, we will develop a legal strategy that is specifically tailored toward your objectives. We will utilize our knowledge of the latest developments in New York family law, and our extensive litigation and trial experience to create the legal strategy you need.
  3. Keep you in the loop: Communication is vital to the success of any legal strategy. At every step of your legal process, we will keep you informed of new developments and prepare you for what’s to come. We will also educate you on the options available so you can make the wisest choices during litigation.
  4. Work as a team: When you hire the Colwell Law Group, you will benefit from our entire group of professionals. This includes lawyers, paralegals, legal assistance and the highest qualified expert witnesses and financial professionals. At all times, your legal team will work closely together in pursuit of your goals.

Contact Your Albany NY Family Litigation Lawyers

Do you have a family law problem you need to address? The Colwell Law Group can help.

What Are the Benefits of Couples Therapy?

Everyone wants to have a strong, successful marriage. In fact, according to a recent study of attitudes towards marriage, 93 percent of Americans surveyed stated that having a very happy marriage is one of the most important objectives in their life. Unfortunately, there is a large (and growing) gap between the number of people who want a happy marriage and the number of people who are actually in a happy marriage. Recently, Bloomberg reported that married Americans are “more unhappy than ever”, with only 60 percent of people responding that they are fully satisfied in their marriage.

Of course, a dysfunctional marriage can sometimes be repaired. Almost every couple goes through some difficult times. Many couples who have hit a rough patch in their relationship are able to get considerable benefits out of marital therapy. Through couples therapy, partners can discuss their issues in a safe environment, with the guidance of a trained professional. Therapy helps by offering tools to married couples so that they know how to repair their relationship, or so that they can get the clarity that they need to realize that it is time to move on.

Three Major Benefits of Couples Therapy

Mediated Communication Is Valuable

If your marriage is struggling, it is likely that poor communication is at least part of the problem. There may be many other issues as well, but you and your partner are most likely not entirely on the same page. Working with a trained professional can help you re-establish those ever-important open lines of communication. Mediated therapy allows couples to reach a better understanding of each other and of themselves, even if they do not always come to an agreement on specific issues.

You Can Find Out If There Is Anything to Save

Couples therapy is not about fixing and saving every relationship. Quite the contrary; sometimes it really is best to move on. If you are considering divorce in Albany, NY but have reservations, couples therapy can help you determine if your relationship is truly worth saving. Many people who have gone through couples therapy report that it helped them better understand why divorce is the right choice, and it helped them to accept that decision.

Make Progress Towards Long-Term Stability

If you want to try to fix your marriage, couples therapy can help to put your marriage on a new path. When you and your partner agree that your marriage is worth saving and repairing, then you will be able to devise a plan of action together that will best move your relationship towards long-term stability and happiness. It is not always easy to fix a rocky marriage, but with commitment and good faith, many couples can make progress back to a place where they are both happy in their relationship.

Get Help From a New York Family Law Attorney Today

At The Colwell Law Group, LLC, our Albany family law attorneys are compassionate, strong legal advocates for our clients. If you need family law guidance, we are here to help. To schedule a fully confidential, no obligation initial consultation, please do not hesitate to contact our law firm today.