Though going to court is an option in every New York State divorce, many people view litigation as a last resort. Most divorcing people at least try to negotiate with their spouse out of court, to see if they can reach a deal on important matters and wrap up the proceeding themselves.

One way to do this is through settlement conferences. These involve each spouse, along with their divorce attorneys, getting together in a room. The parties see how far apart they are on division of property, spousal support, child custody and so forth, and try to negotiate a compromise that both sides can live with.

This is not always possible, especially if the divorce is contentious, or one of the spouses has been verbally or physically abusive toward the other. However, if the spouses can still be civil around each other, they can work toward their common goal of resolving the divorce as quickly and fairly as possible. Instead of waiting for the case to come up on the court docket, settlement conferences take place on the spouses’ schedule.

Mediation is another option. However, it is a different process than negotiation. Because of the way mediation works, abusive spouses may get the chance to insult, coerce and even threaten their ex.

As we said earlier, negotiation and alternative dispute resolution is not for every couple. Litigating divorce in court means presenting your case to a neutral judge and having him or her determine how to split up the martial property, with whom the kids should live, and so on.