For many years, couples preparing for divorce in New Jersey have opted for mediation when they filed for divorce. Mediation can reduce conflict and eliminate some of the stress that children and spouses alike may feel related to a divorce. It can also help couples keep costs lower by minimizing their time in court. Couples have long turned to mediation to streamline their divorces and maintain more control.
In some cases, mediation may also be the only viable means of divorcing quickly because of major delays in the family court system. Couples who mediate are, therefore, often able to complete the divorce process more quickly than those who litigate major issues.
Now, due to significant judicial vacancies and a lot of pressure on the courts, divorce mediation is a more practical solution than ever. For some couples, it may be the only immediate option for marital dissolution.
Six counties have announced a court hiatus
The lack of judges available to handle civil and family law matters has become an issue in many New Jersey jurisdictions. In fact, the state recently announced that six counties will cease hearing civil and family law matters because there aren’t sufficient judges on hand to schedule court sessions.
In February 2023, the state announced that Hunterdon, Somerset, Warren, Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem counties will not be able to conduct family or civil court trials at present. For those who reside in those counties and wish to divorce, the most viable means of moving forward with the divorce process until the state reopens those courts will be divorce mediation.
Why mediation helps
Mediation involves a couple resolving their own disputes about how they will share their property and custody of their children outside of court. They bring their own lawyers and work with a neutral mediator who helps them find a compromise that works for everyone. When successful, the mediation process results in a signed agreement that leads to a straightforward uncontested divorce filing.
Understanding the unique challenges of the New Jersey family law system, including court closures that make divorce mediation a uniquely viable approach at present, can help those who are contemplating divorce in the Garden State.