Free Marriage Mediation Being Offered By Westchester State Court

WHITE PLAINS, NY (WCBS 880) – The state court in Westchester is trying to make divorce less painful by offering free mediation sessions.

About 700 new divorce cases come into the 9th Judicial District every year. But rather than playing the whole thing out in court and drowning in legal fees, state administrative judge Alan Scheinkman is now pushing for marital mediation.

WCBS 880’s Catherine Cioffi reports: Judge Pushing Matrimonial Mediation

“If people can sit down in the same room with a professionally trained mediator and discuss their issues, they may be able to resolve them,” he said.

As a way to encourage mediation, the 9th Judicial District is offering a free, 90 minute mediation session.

“And we just want to try to provide an opportunity to people to have a more expeditious potentially, and just as fair resolution of their case,” said Scheinkman.

There are currently 806 active divorce cases in the 9th Judicial District.

Do you think mediation is a better solution to divorce? Sound off below in our comments section.

  • William L. Winston, Jr.

    My name is William Winston and I am a mediator in private practice in NYC and in New Jersey. I am an associate member of the American Bar Association and a member of the Association of Family & Conciliation Courts.

    Mediation is a great option for most couples divorcing or separating. It gives them more control and allows them to make decisions that are good for them (and not always available to a judge to order in traditional divorce trial). It saves a ton of money. It is about one-third of what a couple would spend on divorce. Less than 5% go to trial, so it really is a questions of when a divorce case is settled not if it will be settled. So might as well explore settlement opportunities through mediation since nothing has been lost. if at the end they want to litigate, the couple still can – so it is an option to explore before pursuing the costly, and stressful route of the court litigation.

    Thank you for reporting on this innovative program in Westchester County. Hopefully we will see more of these kinds of programs in more courts. The court dockets are just huge as it is and making the present process unmanageable.

  • Cara Raich

    My name is Cara Raich and I am President of the Family and Divorce Mediation Council of Greater New York and a mediator in private practice in NYC. I’m also a mediator on the roster for this program.

    I am thrilled to see that this program is getting a little bit of publicity and I thank Ms. Cioffi for her reporting on this important issue.

    Divorce and separation are (not always but often), family matters with legal elements, not legal problems that happen to be about families.

    Mediation offers an opportunity for separating spouses to have a facilitated and direct conversation about the matters between them. Mediation offers a venue to explore possible solutions in an economical and supported environment, enabling parties to figure out what works best for each of them given the reality they face.

    I hope that Judge Scheinkman’s program continues to gain popularity so that the family mediators who are willing to donate their time to the program can assist couples to move on with their lives in ways that work for each of them and their families.

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