Frequently Asked Questions
Does your office offer both virtual (online) mediation services and face-to-face mediation services?
Mr. Leininger resides in Sarasota, Florida from mid-October through mid-May of each year. During the remaining 5 months of the summer, Mr. Leininger resides in New Jersey. We offer virtual mediation services via Zoom videoconferencing 12 months per year, 6 days per week including Saturdays and evenings. All free orientation mediation sessions are held only via Zoom videoconferencing or traditional telephone conference calls. Once the couple is ready to retain Mr. Leininger's services, he will offer a face-to-face mediation if desired by the clients either in our Staten Island, New York office. The Staten Island, New York office is available on Mondays through Saturdays between 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. once the clients have retained our firm.
What is divorce mediation?
In divorce mediation, both spouses meet together with a neutral, impartial, trained professional mediator who helps them come to a mutually acceptable agreement on issues of parenting (child custody), division of marital assets and marital debts, child support, and alimony sometimes called spousal maintenance. Divorcing couples make decisions for themselves by directly communicating with one another in private and keeping control over their own divorce process.
How is divorce mediation different from divorce litigation?
Divorce mediation is a confidential, cooperative, non-adversarial process in which parties work together with a neutral mediator, attorney William J. Leininger, JD. to create a divorce agreement that is fair and equitable to both sides. In divorce mediation, the couple is usually in the same room discussing all the issues with one another and reaching decisions, which helps save time and money and improves post-divorce relationships. In divorce litigation in Court, each party discusses each issue with his/her own divorce attorney. The lawyers then speak with one another. Each lawyer gets back to his/her client for more feedback and the entire process repeats over and over about every issue. And there are many issues to address in a divorce!. This process can make divorce litigation take a very long time, get very expensive, and create a more combative relationship between the spouses. Studies show that children suffer more in a high conflict divorce - and that it is the level of conflict that affects the children negatively, not the divorce itself.
What are your hours of operation?
Our online Zoom mediation sessions are held 6 days a week, Monday through Saturday, between 10:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. Once the parties have retained Mr. Leininger, subject to Mr. Leininger's availability, face-to-face mediation sessions can be conducted in our Staten Island, New York office on the days and times listed above. Our Staten Island office is near the Staten Island Expressway and, thus, is convenient for Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan residents, and is also close to New Jersey communities close to the New Jersey side of the Goethals and Bayonne Bridges. Our office offers plenty of free parking.
How long does divorce mediation take?
The length of the divorce mediation process depends on the complexity of the issues in your particular case. Generally, divorcing couples have two to five 90-minute meetings with the divorce mediator, scheduled at your convenience, although Mr. Leininger has completed the Divorce Mediation process including the preparation of a 50-page Marital Settlement Agreement in as little as nine days when both parties were anxious to complete the mediation, despite having over two million dollars in assets!
How much money can I save in divorce mediation?
We charge a reasonable hourly rate. We request a retainer of $2,500. Many couples divide up that retainer 50-50 unless only one spouse is working outside of the home. We accept cash, checks, Zelle, and major credit cards. The average cost of a divorce mediation at our office is between $2,750 and $5,000, in total, not per person. A litigated divorce generally costs between $65,000 and $75,000, and still, parties end up settling before trial over 97% of the time!.
Can I do mediation by myself if my spouse refuses to attend?
Our office offers a one-time consult with Mr. Leininger for one person if your spouse refuses to attend. This consult allows you to gather information about mediation and the divorce process. The meeting lasts about 30 minutes and costs $150. Please understand that the divorce mediation process requires both parties to attend meetings (either virtually or face to face), so you can make joint decisions about your futures.
Do I still need to hire a lawyer?
We recommend that each party hire a review attorney to use as a legal consultant. A review attorney is a divorce attorney acting in a more limited role. The reviewing lawyer can inform you of your legal rights, review the final divorce agreement, and file the documents in court. We provide our clients with a list of mediation-friendly review attorneys to make the process easier, or you can find your own. When using mediation, you use your lawyer more as a legal adviser instead of a divorce attorney, which can save you thousands of dollars and help minimize stress. Your attorney becomes one part of your divorce team, instead of being the only member of your team. In our New York office, once the mediation is complete and both spouses sign the Marital Settlement Agreement, we will frequently agree to represent one spouse in an uncontested divorce action if the other spouse agrees and signs a waiver of conflict of interest, for a flat-rate fee of only $995, plus out-of-pocket Court fees and expenses. We do this if requested by the parties to avoid the spouse who will be obtaining the divorce from having to shop around to find an experienced divorce attorney who charges a low fixed fee, and who is already fully knowledgeable about the facts of their case!
If my spouse wants to hire an attorney, can we still use mediation?
Yes. Divorce mediation and litigation can be used together. The best approach, which saves the most money, is to limit divorce litigation to only those few issues that do not get resolved through divorce mediation. In this way, couples don't argue about matters on which they mainly agree. By finding areas of the agreement through the divorce mediation process, divorcing couples improve their post-divorce relationship, and save valuable time and money. Mr. Leininger has limited his practice to Divorce for over 40 years! He knows about the divorce process and how to work with people in dispute to arrive at a fair settlement agreement. Mr. Leininger helps divorcing couples reach agreements on parenting, child support, division of marital assets and debts, and, if applicable, spousal support (alimony). In a few cases, the parties do not agree on one or two issues in mediation, and they then decide to resolve those remaining problems through their divorce attorneys. This approach is still less expensive and time-consuming than trying to complete the entire divorce in Divorce Court!.
If I already hired a lawyer can I still do mediation?
Yes. You can start divorce mediation at any point during a divorce, even if you have already filed paperwork in court or started divorce litigation with a divorce lawyer. Mr. Leininger will address the same issues as a divorce lawyer -- parenting plan, child support, division of marital assets and debts, and spousal support (alimony). In fact, for over 28 years, Mr. Leininger has urged all of his mediation clients to consult a divorce attorney to use as a legal adviser, and sometimes to help file the final paperwork in court. We will give you a list of mediation-friendly divorce attorneys when you hire Mr. Leininger as your mediator.
Why choose Mr. Leininger as your Divorce Mediator?
Our office in Staten Island, New York is one of the few practices in New York that specialize in divorce mediation. It is all that we do in New York and New Jersey, except in those cases in New York where the couple requests that Mr. Leininger process the uncontested divorce!. Mr. Leininger uses his experience as one of the most experienced Divorce Mediators to provide divorce mediation services in a calm, professional way to his clients.