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What is economic mediation as it concerns divorce?

On Behalf of | May 7, 2024 | Divorce

Divorce is an emotionally charged process, and untangling finances can be a particularly stressful battleground. In New Jersey, economic mediation offers a solution for divorcing couples seeking to resolve financial issues outside the courtroom.

Economic mediation is a court-mandated or voluntary process where a neutral third party, a trained mediator, facilitates communication and negotiation between spouses regarding unresolved financial issues in their divorce. Economic mediation prioritizes a collaborative approach, aiming to reach a mutually beneficial agreement that avoids the time, cost and potential animosity of a court trial.

The economic mediation process

The economic mediation process in the Garden State typically begins with an Early Settlement Panel (ESP). In most contested divorce cases, the court first refers the case to the panel. This panel, consisting of two experienced legal representatives, reviews the case and issues a non-binding settlement recommendation.

If the ESP recommendation doesn’t resolve all financial issues, the court may order economic mediation. Alternatively, spouses can choose to enter mediation voluntarily at any point during the divorce process. Both parties, along with their representatives, submit financial disclosure statements detailing income, assets, debts and expenses. This transparency is crucial for informed negotiation.

What follows are mediation sessions where a mediator facilitates discussions, guiding communication, exploring options and identifying solutions that meet both spouses’ needs. The mediator doesn’t impose a settlement; they foster compromise.

If successful, the mediator helps craft a written agreement outlining the division of assets and debts, spousal support (if applicable) and child support arrangements. Both parties’ representatives review the agreement, helping to ensure it complies with state law and protects each spouse’s interests. Finally, the court must formally approve the agreement for it to become binding.

Benefits of economic mediation

Economic mediation offers several advantages over litigation. For starters, mediation is generally less expensive than a full-blown trial. Couples split the mediator’s fees, often significantly lower than individual legal fees in a protracted court battle.

Additionally, mediation can resolve financial issues much faster than a court case, allowing couples to move forward with their lives sooner. Moreover, the collaborative nature of mediation fosters open communication and minimizes the hostility often associated with courtroom proceedings.

Economic mediation can be a valuable tool in a New Jersey divorce. By working with an experienced mediator, couples can navigate financial complexities collaboratively, potentially saving time, money and emotional strain.


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