Role of a New York Divorce Mediator Vs. a Judge

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Due to limited exposure to the legal system, many divorcing couples believe that only a judge can decide on the terms of their divorce.  Many may not have considered using a New York divorce mediator to resolve legal issues related to their divorce, such as property distribution, child custody or child support.  By understanding the different roles of a judge and a New York divorce mediator, couples can decide which route they should take.

Decision Making

One of the primary differences between these two individuals is decision making authority.  A judge can make decisions that impact a family.  He or she may make decisions that neither party wants or agrees with.  He or she reviews evidence and hears testimony in order to make these decisions.   In contrast, a mediator has no power over the couples.  He or she can give an opinion, but the couple only reaches a settlement if they both voluntarily agree to its terms.


A family court judge tends to occupy a place of formality in the proceedings.  He or she may not have any direct contact with either party and may only hear the party’s responses to questions.  In contrast, a mediator talks to both parties.  He or she is a neutral participant in the process and helps the parties communicate better.  He or she often meets with the parties separately and then brings everyone in to meet when the case is close to a resolution.

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