Divorce is not an easy process, even for those couples who agree about the terms. There are feelings of loss and disappointment. When couples are at loggerheads about custody, support, and property division, the process can turn adversarial. Some of these contentious divorces can have a successful resolution through divorce mediation.
What Is Divorce Mediation?
Divorce mediation is an alternative dispute resolution process. Couples meet with a specially trained and neutral third party to resolve their divorce-related issues.
Mediation involves these steps:
- Process Expectations. All parties introduce themselves. The NJ divorce mediator explains their role, the basic process, and what can be expected in each session.
- Initial Statements. Both spouses are given individual time to explain their sides of the issues and identify any problems as they see them.
- Collecting Information. The mediator may request additional information and ask clarifying questions to help the mediator come to a conclusion.
- Problem Identification: After reviewing all the information and listening to both sides, the mediator will discuss what they feel are the foundational issues that need to be resolved.
- Negotiating. Both sides may begin the process of give and take, guided by the mediator.
The mediator skillfully guides the conversation and asks probing questions of both parties to establish common ground and differences. When needed, other specialists like child psychologists, appraisers, or accountants can be utilized. Compromises are suggested yet the couple ultimately has the final say in whatever agreement is reached.
Don’t assume mediation will not work because you and your spouse have different viewpoints. Mediators are trained to bring two points that are far apart closer together. The process provides each spouse with a better understanding of the other’s concerns. Then, through give and take, a middle ground is found. Even complex, high-net-worth divorces can be successfully mediated.
Mediation can settle the following matters:
- Child Custody
- Child Support
- Spousal Support
- Division of Assets
If there are aspects of the divorce that cannot reach an agreement through mediation, an outside arbitrator can listen to both sides and then decide how that issue is to be settled.
The mediator then drafts a divorce settlement agreement for both spouses (and their attorneys) that will be presented to the judge. Once the court approves the agreement, it is legally binding and enforceable like any other order from a court.
Advantages of Mediation
A substantial benefit of mediation is that the couple collectively agrees to the terms. In cases of litigation, spouses may feel like one of them lost while the other won. Litigated agreements are more commonly violated. Mediated agreements have a higher rate of compliance because both parties agreed to its conditions.
The trained mediators at Lane & Lane, LLC serve central New Jersey, including Somerset County, Morris County, Union County, Middlesex County, and Essex County. Schedule a no-cost consultation by calling (908) 259-6673.
Another benefit of mediation is confidentiality. What is discussed during mediation remains private information. Court proceedings are considered public information. Mediation does not deprive you of having a lawyer. Remember that the mediator does not represent either spouse. You might still want legal advice from an attorney. Lastly, the process encourages better communication between spouses, which can help you when conflicts arise in the future.
When Is Litigation Needed?
Mediation is usually quicker and less expensive than going to court. Sometimes, though, litigation is the best avenue. Litigation can be a Plan B if mediation fails but some situations call for taking the divorce straight to court.
Litigation might be better than mediation in these circumstances:
- Both spouses agree to divorce
- History of domestic violence
- Fear for the children’s safety
- Spouses are transparent about finances
- A spouse has a history of lying
- One spouse uses mediation as a stalling tactic
- A spouse has a substance abuse issue
- A spouse is mentally incapacitated
There is no right or wrong process for divorce. A law firm experienced in both litigation and mediation can advise you on what may be best in your case.
Comprehensive Mediation Services in New Jersey
Mediation, when appropriate, can lead to an amicable agreement that takes less time and expense than a litigated divorce. At Lane & Lane, LLC, we can help you determine if mediation or litigation is right for you. Whether you end up taking your divorce to court or work through mediation, our firm has extensive experience to see you through the entire process.
Learn more about whether mediation is right for your divorce in a no-cost consultation. Submit our online form or call us at (908) 259-6673 to schedule.