A New Jersey judge will typically require a couple to first go through divorce mediation before bringing their disputes to the courtroom. Emergency orders are exceptions.
Mediation is serving a critical purpose, particularly in light of the judge shortage the state is currently experiencing.
The combination of the judge shortage and the knowledge that contested elements are typically required to go through mediation, more couples are seeing voluntary mediation as the right path to move their divorce forward.
A Mediator Does Not Represent Either Side
The role of the mediator is to provide unbiased, nonprejudicial guidance that enables couples to create mutually agreeable plans.
Through mediation, the two parties can determine any of the following:
- How to divide their marital assets
- Where any minor children will live
- What visitation the non-custodial parent receives
- How much a parent pays the other in child support
- Whether one spouse should pay any spousal support to their ex
Each party in the divorce should have an experienced attorney to ensure their best interests and rights are supported. Without legal support, spouses may not know all their rights or understand their options in various scenarios. Your attorney provides that guidance.
The mediator does not provide legal advice, but they do identify the issues and skillfully guide the conversation with the goal of the parties finding a compromise. Unlike a court battle where the judge has the ultimate say in what happens, mediation gives both parties an equal voice in the final agreement.
The Mediation Process
Divorce hearings in court are scheduled according to the court docket. The schedule and pace of mediation are driven by the schedules of the participants and the issues involved. Couples can choose to enter mediation before they even file for divorce. Mediation typically takes far less time than litigation. The process is not constrained by rules related to procedure and evidence.
Steps in the mediation process include the following over multiple meetings:
- Each side will present their opinions and goals related to each of the outstanding divorce issues.
- Each side provides financial statements, a list of parenting costs, a budget of household expenses, work and family schedules, and any other information that can provide background for the mediator.
- The mediator discusses with the parties what appears to be the central issues in each dispute. Once there is agreement on the problem, the mediator suggests compromises for them to consider.
- With the help of the neutral mediator, both sides participate in a back-and-forth of potential solutions.
- Once the solutions are accepted by both parties, the mediator typically drafts a divorce agreement for review. After any necessary edits, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is sent to the parties’ attorneys for review. The MOU identifies the details agreed upon by the spouses. The MOU is also used to create a consent order.
Depending on the personalities of the parties and the complexity of the issues, mediation can be completed within a few meetings. Along the way, each party should remain in close contact with their attorneys and seek their advice about the developments in their case.
Mediation is not appropriate for every divorce case. For the process to be effective, couples must be willing to communicate and respect each other. Marriages with a history of domestic violence or control may be better suited for other divorce methods.
Legal and Mediation Services for New Jersey Divorces
At Lane & Lane, LLC, our attorneys are committed to helping our clients reach favorable divorce outcomes that position them for a hopeful future.
Our firm has certified divorce mediators to adeptly bring the two divergent sides together to reach a compromise that works for everyone involved. If you have begun or will soon begin divorce mediation, we also have talented attorneys who can provide legal options and advice along the way.
Learn more about our legal and mediation services in a free consultation. Schedule by calling (908) 259-6673 or reaching out online.