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Frequently Asked Divorce Questions
by Long Island Center for Divorce Mediation


What is a Separation Agreement? Is That Better for Me Than Divorcing?
Sometimes people want a Separation Agreement rather than a Legal Divorce. A Separation Agreement starts with our Mediators mediating all the issues to negotiate, same as in Divorce. Then, the Separation Agreement, a contract between the Spouses containing all the mediated issues, is drawn up. The Separation Agreement, similar to the Stipulation of Settlement, is then filed with the county clerk in NY.

Why do couples select a Separation, rather than a Divorce? Some are hoping to reconcile. Some want to stay on the other Spouse's Health Insurance. Since in a Separation, the couple is still married, most insurance plans allow the non-insured Spouse to stay on the plan, even though separated.

How Are Financial Assets and Debts Divided Up in Divorce Mediation on Long Island?
In Mediation, the Mediator gathers all financial information from the Couple. Then the Mediator guides the Spouses through division of all assets and liabilities. In New York, all property acquired after the marriage is divided through equitable distribution. Most often the Couple decides on a 50/50 split, but that can be varied in individual cases.

How Is My Pension Divided in Divorce Mediation?
In most circumstances, any part of a pension, IRA or 401k, earned during the marriage is distributable between the Spouses. Often that results in a 50/50 split. This can be varied during divorce mediation.

In a Divorce, Who Gets the House?
In New York State, neither Spouse automatically gets the House. Whether the House is to be sold or not depends on the overall picture of the finances of the Couple. It also depends on who is the owner. Some Houses are bought before the marriage and that Spouse then retains ownership after divorce.

This is a complex issue that needs to be resolved before the mediation sessions are completed.

Are You Entitled to Spousal Support?
The New York State Courts have developed a complex formula for determining Spousal Support. They include the salaries of each Spouse, length of marriage and other factors. A rule of thumb - if the Spousal incomes are close to equal when child support is added in, usually there is no Spousal Support. Please call us for details. 631-757-1553

What are the Guidelines for Child Support In NY?
Child support amounts have been mandated by the Courts in New York State. They are: The residential Spouse gets 17% of the non-residential Spouse's gross yearly income minus social security for one child. For two children, the number is 25%. For three children, 29%. For four or more children, the amount is 35%.

In Divorce Mediation, Spouses can modify the amounts mandated by the Courts according to circumstances.

What Are the Guidelines for Child Custody in NY?
Couples can choose either sole legal custody or joint legal custody. In joint legal custody, parents share responsibility for important decisions about their children, including health and school.

In sole legal custody, one parent is responsible for decisions re the children.

In New York, most couples these days are choosing joint legal custody.

Then there is residential custody. Residential custody refers to where the children primarily reside. The parent who has residential custody receives child support from the non-residential parent.

What if I Can't Get My Spouse to Come to Divorce Mediation?
In New York, we have no-fault divorce. That means that you no longer need to prove grounds in order to get a divorce. Either Spouse can get a divorce if they wish.

Therefore, the Spouse who wants a divorce can say to the other: "I am getting a divorce. You can come to Divorce Mediation sessions and divorce that way. (This is an uncontested divorce.) Or we can go to separate lawyers and pay a large retainer each with more expense to come." Then the lawyers and the Judge will be in charge of our divorce. (This is a contested divorce.)

Most Spouses then agree to come to Mediation which costs under $5000 total as compared to going to separate lawyers. In Suffolk County, NY each side must come up with an average of $7500 as a starter retainer when going to separate lawyers.

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