Presumptive Alternate Dispute Resolution
The New York State Court System (OCA) has implemented a statewide initiative to refer court filed matrimonial actions to mediation as part of the Presumptive Alternate Dispute Resolution (PADR) process for all civil matters.
Most often at the Preliminary Conference (the first time the parties are “in court”), but at any time during the litigation including right up to trial, judges and other judicial personnel will inquire of the parties and attorneys whether participation in mediation is appropriate to assist the parties in reaching an agreement to resolve any or all pending issues.
If the case is deemed suitable for mediation, including but not limited to a screening for domestic violence, the attorneys will select a mediator, or the court will assign a mediator from the approved court roster. All mediators on the roster have completed an in-depth application process and review of credentials. The mediators generously offer the first ninety minutes of mediation free of charge to the parties and will provide hourly fee information for additional sessions if the parties wish to continue in the mediation process.
The mediator may schedule a pre-mediation call with the attorneys and may request that certain documents be provided prior to the first mediation session. Lawyers are present during the first session and the parties have the option to request their lawyers’ participation at subsequent sessions or they may choose to attend without attorneys.
The court appointed mediator’s role is the same as that in private mediation: serving as a neutral and facilitating a discussion with the parties to explore interests and create options for themselves that will lead toward a more satisfying outcome of their case.
Many FDMC members have been approved to serve on court rosters throughout New York. Currently, most mediations are taking place virtually via Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or similar platforms.