If you are planning to divorce your spouse, you probably already know there are a variety of tasks you must accomplish. These include dividing marital property and addressing marital debts. If you have kids, though, you also must come up with a custody arrangement.
When there is a custody dispute in New Jersey, judges typically mandate mediation between the involved parents. According to the New Jersey State Board of Mediation, mediation is an informal process where a neutral mediator helps the parties try to reach an agreement.
Is the mediator the judge in your custody case?
If you are going through court-mandated mediation, it probably makes sense to make a good-faith effort to negotiate. The mediator is not the judge in your case, though, so he or she cannot force you to reach an agreement. Nevertheless, you can expect your mediator to offer suggestions about how you might successfully resolve your custody dispute.
Can you consult with legal counsel?
If you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse can come up with the framework for a custody arrangement during mediation, it might be advisable to consult with legal counsel before signing the agreement. Indeed, an attorney can help you understand whether your agreement has any potential pitfalls or drawbacks.
Is mediation public?
As you might suspect, some sensitive information can come to light during mediation. Luckily, you do not have to worry about your mediation being part of the public record. After all, your mediation should be both private and confidential.
Ultimately, because court-mandated mediation can help you reach the right agreement for your post-divorce family, you should consider keeping an open mind about it.