The mediation process is often used to settle divorce and other family-related cases in New Jersey. Unlike litigation, it is non-contentious and neither party is considered the “right” one. Mediation works particularly well when both parties are able to be civil with each other, but it can also work if one party feels especially aggrieved or emotional.
Mediation: The process
If you decide to pursue mediation, you should still hire an attorney to draft and file your divorce, custody, or other settlement papers. Every case is different and having an attorney with experience in mediation can be extremely helpful. She will bring knowledge of the New Jersey legal system to the process, and save you the cost of litigation while still protecting your interests.
You and your spouse will meet with a mediator at your convenience however often you deem necessary. Many cases can be settled in a limited number of meetings, usually when both parties maintain a congenial or courteous relationship.
During the meetings, you and your spouse will be able to discuss your divorce on neutral territory, in a safe environment. Decisions are made by you and your spouse. The mediator is there to keep you on track and away from emotional discussions that do nothing to help you settle differences pertaining to your divorce.
When you have agreed to the various aspects of your divorce including child custody, child or spousal support, division of assets, including property and liabilities, and other matters, your mediator will draft a Memo of Understanding (MOU). Having your attorney review the MOU helps protect your interests. Your attorney will use the MOU to prepare applicable divorce documents and file them with the court.
Ninety percent of divorce cases in New Jersey that begin with litigation end up settling outside of court. In some cases, judges require divorcing couples to attend mediation sessions even though they’ve begun litigation. Had those couples began divorce proceedings with a mediator and pro-mediation attorney, they could have saved themselves great financial and emotional expense.
In fact, if you are divorcing in Passaic County, mediation may be your only option. The court has stayed all divorce proceedings for the foreseeable future.
The benefits of mediation
Mediation is a cost-saving, less stressful way to divorce, especially for couples who can maintain a civil discourse. It can also benefit couples who were never legally married but have children or joint assets, and those who have been divorced but are experiencing difficulties regarding court order compliance. You should consult an attorney to see if mediation could work for you.