The divorce process does not have to be acrimonious or litigious. If you and your spouse generally agree on important issues like custody, spousal support, and the distribution of marital property, you may use an alternative dispute resolution process like mediation to bring your matter to a conclusion more quickly. Mediation is typically less expensive and time-consuming than litigation.
Divorce mediation is the process where a third-party mediator works closely with you and your spouse to address important issues to reach a mutual agreement. Mediation may be required by the Court in certain, more difficult, circumstances. Parties may attend mediation with their attorneys, or without.
Mediators are neutral parties and do not offer legal advice, do not represent either of the parties, or make decisions for you. Mediators facilitate communication between you and your spouse, including discussions about child support, custody, and spousal support, and they present problem-solving alternatives. Once you and your spouse complete mediation, your mediator will draft a memorandum of understanding, or a term sheet, memorializing the agreements reached in your mediation session. You can then present this document to your attorney in order for a Marital Settlement Agreement to be drafted and reviewed by respective counsel.
What Are the Benefits of Divorce Mediation?
While mediation may not be an effective solution for all cases, it offers many benefits, including:
- Mediation is generally less expensive and time-consuming than litigation
- Mediation can result in the settlement of most, if not all, issues
- The mediation process is confidential
- You and your spouse have more control over the outcome of your divorce
- Mediation is often less adversarial than litigation
- You and your spouse control the process rather than the Court
Is Mediation Mandatory?
Mediation is a choice for many divorcing couples, but there are circumstances when mediation may be required:
- Custody disputes: When a divorce complaint or motion involves custody or parenting time disputes, the Court will determine whether mediation is necessary. Most times, the Court will mandate the parties to attend at least one free required session of mediation with a court-appointed representative. While you may request to waive the mediation requirement, you must have a valid reason. Ultimately, it is up to the Judge to accept or deny your request; this does not apply if you suffered spousal abuse or domestic violence.
- Financial disputes: If there are financial disputes that you and your spouse are unable to resolve, a Judge may require you to participate in an Early Settlement Program (ESP). This is where a panel of lawyers will hear from you and your spouse, review the documents that are presented, and recommend a settlement. If you and your spouse do not agree with the panel’s recommendation, a Judge will order you to attend additional post-ESP economic mediation.
When Is Mediation Not Recommended?
While mediation has many benefits, there are situations where it may not be the best course of action. These include:
- You suffered spousal abuse or are concerned about your children’s safety. Mediation is not recommended for those suffering from domestic violence. Some mediators will not take cases that involve domestic violence.
- Your spouse has been deceitful or untrustworthy. If you believe that your spouse has been hiding assets, wasting funds, or lying about other important issues, mediation will likely be ineffective.
- You believe that your spouse may intentionally delay the proceedings. It is not the mediator’s job to tell you and your spouse what to do or how to behave. Mediation is not recommended if you think that your spouse may stall the process for their own benefit.
- Your spouse blames you for the dissolution of the marriage. Mediation is unlikely to be successful if your spouse is claiming that you are responsible for the marriage failing.
New Jersey Divorce Mediators at Lepp, Mayrides & Eaton, LLC Protect Their Clients Throughout the Mediation and Divorce Process
The experienced New Jersey divorce mediators at Lepp, Mayrides & Eaton, LLC ensure their clients’ rights are protected, whether settlement is reached, or litigation is necessary. Call us at 908-800-7676 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.
Located in Somerville, New Jersey, our attorneys serve clients throughout Central New Jersey, including those in Somerset County, Hunterdon County, Warren County, Morris County, Mercer County, Monmouth County, Union County, and Middlesex County.