Somerville Office

Is Mediation Faster Than Taking My Divorce to Court?

The decision to divorce might be unanimous, but spouses can still have extremely divergent ideas on what should be in the decree.

Arguing the various merits before a judge is one way to have divorce issues settled. With the time it takes to get on the court’s docket and various motions, a litigated divorce in New Jersey can take up to 12 months (longer in highly complex cases). Fortunately, there is an option that works for many divorces.

Divorce mediation can often resolve matters in the divorce settlement within a few months. The advantage of speed leads to another benefit of mediation. Less time usually means less cost. Both parties can move forward with their life post-divorce more quickly and with less expense than going to court. Mediation is typically less stressful than a trial. Discussions in mediation are private and not open to public scrutiny like a trial.

At Lane & Lane, LLC, our certified divorce mediators help couples reach compromises and creative solutions.

What Happens in Mediation?

A mediator is a neutral third party. Their role is to guide the conversation in a manner that promotes cooperation and understanding. After introductions, each spouse explains their concerns and wishes. The areas of agreement are identified as well as the matters in dispute.

The spouses provide requested information such as financial and other documents so the mediator can study and get a clearer picture of what is involved.

With their statements and other information in hand, the mediator addresses what they believe are the foundational issues that need to be resolved. The mediator helps the two parties respectfully discuss each issue, engaging in back-and-forth suggestions until a resolution is found. A mediator skillfully facilitates the debate, but they do not offer legal advice.

Divorce matters that can be decided through mediation include the following:

Does the Mediator Make the Final Decision?

The spouses ultimately made the final decision on each element of their divorce. Mediated settlements have fewer enforcement issues because of the former couple’s involvement in the process. They make a collective decision about their divorce agreement rather than being told by a judge.

An attorney or the mediator can draw up the draft agreement for the parties to sign. The agreement is submitted to the Family Division of the Superior Court at the county level. The judge generally signs off, giving the agreement the power of a court order.

Can I Still Go to Court?

There are times when mediation fails to solve the divorce issues. Mediation is unsuccessful if one spouse isn’t truly willing to work with the other. If one person remains too focused on their own anger or hurt, mediation probably won’t work. When agreement cannot be reached on one or more issues, the case can go before a family law judge. The court will then have the ultimate say in custody, support, and property questions.

Some divorces are best suited for the courtroom, including the following:

  • Marriages with a history of domestic violence
  • The two spouses cannot cooperate
  • One spouse is a bully or is manipulative
  • One spouse suspects the other of hiding assets
  • One spouse doesn’t want the divorce

Is Mediation Right for You?

Mediation can be an effective tool for many couples who want to dissolve their marriage. No one knows the relationship and family dynamics better than the people involved. This knowledge and understanding often lead to settlements that feel much more even-handed and fairer than a decision handed down by a judge. A less-adversarial divorce helps both spouses move forward with a greater sense of peace and hope for the future.

Our legal team can evaluate your specific case to determine whether divorce mediation is a viable option for you. Schedule a free initial consultation by calling (908) 259-6673.