Mediation is a type of negotiation facilitated by a neutral third party called a mediator. A mediator has no decision-making authority. Rather, the mediator acts only as a facilitator, helping the parties negotiate a resolution. With the assistance of the mediator, the parties identify issues, clarify perceptions, and explore options for a mutually acceptable outcome. The mediation process frequently concludes with a settlement agreement. However, even in instances where no agreement is reached, the parties usually still benefit from having participated in the process; often the perspectives gained during mediation help the parties reach a final agreement after the case returns to the traditional litigation process. In addition, the process almost always improves the parties’ ability to communicate with each other in the future.
The Program mediators engage the parties directly in the mediation process to empower them to be more active and involved in reaching mutually acceptable resolutions. Throughout the mediation process, the parties take lead roles in attempting to reach a favorable outcome. The Program encourages the participants to have their attorneys accompany them to the mediation sessions. Whether a party opts to have their attorney present or not, the attorneys take on more of an advisory role in the process but remain an integral component to ensuring a successful outcome.
The Matrimonial Mediation Program is open to parties who have a contested divorce case pending in Suffolk County. The assigned judge screens each case for possible referral into the Program, and decides whether to refer a case to mediation. Most cases are sent to mediation, however, cases involving allegations of domestic violence, child abuse or neglect, or a severe power imbalance between the parties, may not be appropriate for mediation and therefore would, in most instances, not be referred to mediation. Parties referred to the Program are required to attend the initial mediation session, however, anytime thereafter should either party decide that mediation is not working they may opt out of the Program. There is no cost to the parties to attend and participate in this mediation program.
Participation in the Mediation Program will not delay a case. All matrimonial cases referred to the Mediation Program remain on a dual track. During the mediation process cases continue with their assigned judges; this allows for a seamless transition back to the traditional litigation process in the event a case does not settle with mediation.
The Suffolk County Matrimonial Mediation Program uses in-house mediators. All Program mediators have undergone formal mediation training, have experience in family mediation, and have extensive knowledge of matrimonial and family law. Our Program mediators meet or exceed the qualifications required by the New York State Court System.
The Hon. C. Randall Hinrichs, District Administrative Judge, oversees the operation of the Suffolk County Matrimonial Mediation Program in consultation with the Hon. Andrew A. Crecca, Supervising Judge of the Matrimonial Division. Court Attorney-Referee Matthew M. Deedy, Esq. is the ADR Coordinator responsible for managing the program. For additional information, or to offer suggestions or comments, please contact the Program Coordinator, Matthew M. Deedy, Esq., at SCDivorceMediation@nycourts.gov or call the Suffolk County Matrimonial Mediation Center at (631) 740-3777.