Your Divorce Mediator, Don Sinkov asks why judges do not recommend mediation and think families should be in court.Here in New York, when couples end up in court, the Judges do not have the ability to order cases directly to mediation. But is that really the problem?

Is it because Judges think that family matters should be settled in court by a Judge who doesn’t know the family?

Or is it because Judges think that no cases involving families going through divorce are appropriate for mediation?

Some states have a mandatory mediation program, where the Judges understand that you don’t drag the kids into court if you don’t have to. Instead, they believe, because of the children, couples should try to enter into mediation to see if their problems can be resolved peaceably. Remember, these parents are going to co-parent their children after court.

Which is more likely after litigation: parents cooperating with each other, or parents going to court every time there is a problem?

Without a mediation program, the Judges are making family decisions for families they know nothing about. They’re making decisions based on lawyers’ arguments and maybe client testimony, which I’m sure the Judges aren’t too thrilled with. How would you feel talking about the most intimate, personal details of your life to a stranger in an open court? How can that possibly make sense?

Yet that’s what we do in New York. We allow attorneys to argue matrimonial cases for profit. We allow families that are going through such turmoil to be thrown into the ring, and allow the attorneys to turn it into a free-for-all, making ridiculous accusations and asking for exorbitant support sums that everyone knows will ultimately be modified. That’s what we call in New York the “wish list.”

It astounds me that Judges believe that none of their cases are appropriate for mediation. They clearly don’t understand what mediation is. Mediation has been around for thousands of years, is still being done today by some of the most erudite, educated people in the world:

  • Jimmy Carter
  • Bill Clinton
  • John Kerry
  • Henry Kissinger
  • Madelyn Albright

We could go on and on naming people that try to play a role as peacekeepers, and attempt to mediate disputes between countries.

I asked a Matrimonial Judge once how many cases he had and he answered, “Approximately 40 to 50 cases a day.”

I asked, “How many do you think would be appropriate for mediation?”

He answered, “None of them.”

I responded, “You are talking about hundreds and hundreds of cases, and there isn’t a single one appropriate for mediation?”

His reply: “Nope, absolutely not. None of the cases that come before me are appropriate for mediation.”

You have to ask yourself, what’s wrong with this picture? Why won’t Judges refer cases to mediation?

Why do Judges think court is where families belong?

Comments From Social Media

Couples in my rural county in Minnesota not only have the option of mediation but the support of our judges. It is common practice the judge will put in the divorce decree the couples must try mediation before bringing any issues back to court. As a Community Mediation program under Minnesota state statue we cannot perform pre-divorce mediations. I as an individual can according to the law. We are trying to get a pilot program funded where pro se divorce cases use mediation prior to going before the judge. I presently have a case where one party is talking divorce, the other just wants some clarity to the present situation. We do family mediations, so this case definitely falls in that category.

Debra Petersen, LPC


Your article does not surprise me, but it does allow me to brag about our rural county judges that think certain family issues should be resolved by the family.


About Don Sinkov

Don Sinkov Your Divorce Mediator Westchester County, NY Putnam County, NY Phone: (914) 588-6258 eMail: