The emotional and financial costs of divorce do not have to be devastating.
Susan Saper Galamba is an experienced divorce attorney and trained mediator and arbitrator. There are several paths to divorce and each path has advantages and disadvantages. Susan can help you understand your options and choose the path that is right for you and your situation.
Know Your Options
At the time that the Petition for Divorce is filed, a judge is assigned by random selection to hear your divorce case. The Husband and Wife can either represent themselves (pro se) or be represented by an attorney. The Court’s calendar will control the scheduling of any contested issues, including the final trial. The Rules of Civil Procedure and Rules of Evidence are strictly adhered to by the Judge. If the Husband and Wife are unable to reach an agreement, the Judge will decide the disputed issues.
In mediation, Husband and Wife choose an unbiased third party, normally an attorney or judge who is not hearing their case, to help them reach an agreement regarding those issues on which they cannot agree. The Husband and Wife can choose to have attorneys present during the mediation or not. The mediator’s job is to help the Husband and Wife reach an agreement based on the mediator’s knowledge of the law and the jurisdiction in which the Husband and Wife’s case has been or will be filed. The mediator’s job is not to “order” the Husband and Wife to do anything, but rather is to try and facilitate an agreement. Any agreement reached in mediation is not enforceable unless and until the Husband and Wife affirm their agreement in writing. In other words, the Husband and Wife can tentatively reach an agreement in mediation, but after thinking about it, and/or discussing it with their attorney, either party can decide not to accept the terms of the agreement. All discussions and negotiations that occur in mediation are confidential. The purpose of the negotiations remaining confidential is to promote settlement.
Arbitration is an informal mini-trial. The Husband and Wife choose an unbiased third party, normally an attorney or judge who is not hearing their case, to hear both sides of the case and make a decision. Not only do the Husband and Wife get to select the person who is going to hear their case, but also they get to select how the arbitration will be conducted, the rules that will apply, what authority the arbitrator will have and which issues will be decided by the arbitrator. The Husband and Wife will be able to engage in direct conversations with the Arbitrator, and can choose whether or not to have attorneys present during the arbitration. During the arbitration, witnesses can testify on behalf of either the Husband or Wife. The scheduling of the arbitration is agreed to by the Husband, Wife and Arbitrator.