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Divorce Mediation

in New Jersey

Divorce Mediation in New Jersey

Divorce can turn life upside down. In most cases, litigation forces spouses to become enemies fighting over children, money and property. Rather than resolving the situation and restoring sanity, going to court usually makes matters worse by creating winners and losers. On the other hand, divorce mediation focuses on cooperation, collaboration, finding solutions and creating results that work for both parties now and in the future.

What is Divorce Mediation?

Divorce mediation is a voluntary process that is an alternative to traditional divorce litigation. Divorce mediation focuses on finding solutions to problems instead of blaming and fighting. It encourages the discovery of mutually-beneficial strategies geared to the needs of all concerned. It sets the stage for future relationships that are less adversarial and more peaceful.

Mediation can be used to settle disputes over things like child custody, shared business interests, asset distribution and child or spousal support. Working these arrangements out jointly with a mediator before going to court helps both parties to reduce stress and to come up with solutions that work for everyone.

How Does the Divorce Mediation Work?

In divorce mediation, you and your spouse and your respective lawyers hire a neutral third-party called a mediator. Because the mediator is a neutral party, they cannot give advice to either party.

The role of the mediator is to help identify the issues that need to be resolved and facilitate discussion toward reaching an agreement. The mediator does not provide legal advice, but rather serves as a neutral facilitator to assist you and your spouse keep negotiations focused, brainstorm ideas, and assist with the decision-making process.

It is lack of communication, arguing, and mudslinging that often causes negotiations to breakdown. By keeping the lines of communication open and focused on the issues at hand, mediation increases the likelihood of coming to a mutually acceptable agreement on issues in dispute.

Once an agreement is reached the mediator will prepare a Memorandum of Understanding. This is a nonbinding summary of the areas in which the parties have reached an agreement. The Memorandum of Understanding will be signed by both spouses and will become a binding contract between the parties and part of the Judgment of Divorce. It is recommended that each spouse have the Memorandum of Understanding reviewed by their respective lawyer.

How Long Does Divorce Mediation Take?

Mediation is a voluntary process. Sessions can be conducted weekly, monthly, or as often as needed. With mediation, the divorcing spouses are in control. The process continues until an agreement is reached on all disputed issues, or the parties decide to abandon the process.

Find Out If Divorce Mediation Is Right For You!

Find Out If Divorce Mediation Is Right For You!

What Are The Benefits of Divorce Mediation Versus Litigation?

Rather than perpetuating conflict, mediation focuses on creating new family relationships. Benefits of mediation include:

  • Faster problem resolution. Mediation is faster than litigation. You can settle matters quickly and get on with your life.

  • Lower costs. Because mediation is faster than litigation, the costs are almost always less.
  • Privacy. With mediation, you can avoid the public nature of adversarial litigation proceedings. This reduces drama and lessens the emotional impact on all concerned.
  • Equal participation. Mediation allows both parties equal input into the mediation process and its outcome.
  • Voluntary participation. Mediation is a voluntary process, so either participant can withdraw at any time. This reduces the potential for manipulation, exploitation and other intimidation tactics.
  • Creative problem solving. Mediation allows the parties to create workable agreements of their own without having agreements decided on and imposed by the courts.
  • Agreed-upon strategies to resolve future problems can be built into the agreement.
  • Participants are more likely to comply with agreements they have created than with agreements imposed by the courts.
  • Mediation agreements are not final until everyone understands and agrees to the terms. Agreements can be reviewed by the parties’ attorneys before becoming final. Although agreements must be approved by the courts, the courts usually won’t interfere with or exchange the agreements.

What Are The Costs of Divorce Mediation?

The cost of divorce mediation can depend on a number of different factors. In 2005, the average cost of mediation was $3000 and took 90 days. The average cost of a traditional litigated case is $15,000 and takes an average of 18 months.

It Is important to keep in mind that the cost of divorce goes beyond the actual financial cost to reach an agreement. This is especially true when you consider traditional divorce litigation versus mediation. Traditionally, divorce has been handled through the court system. The traditional court system is adversarial by nature. It was created for determining who’s right and who’s wrong. Unfortunately, when it comes to marriage and family is not always a matter of right and wrong. Marriage is more than a legal contract. It is more than a piece of paper.

Marriage is a complex tapestry of shared experiences, relationships, property, and more. Untying the knot isn’t always that simple. It can be an overwhelming and highly emotional event and process. In fact, divorce is considered the most stressful event someone can go through in their lifetime second only to the death of a loved one.

This is why divorce can become so contentious quickly. When the relationships and things that people hold most dear seem to be in jeopardy in the future uncertain, it’s only natural to become defensive.

Unfortunately, when divorce becomes contentious and adversarial the cost includes lingering emotional trauma, shattered relationships among family and your shared circle of friends, and bitterness when someone is unhappy with final decree. No one wants a judge deciding what’s best for them and their family. This is where divorce mediation shines. The uncertainty of traditional divorce is no longer a factor.In divorce mediation, the spouses are able to come up with creative solutions that are win-win for all parties. In fact, couples that mediate tend to be satisfied with the agreement reached more often.

Checklist For Divorce Mediation

The best way to improve your chances of success with divorce mediation, reduce costs, and reach an amicable agreement more quickly is to spend a little time preparing yourself for the process.

If you are considering divorce mediation, or you’ve already decided that you want to mediate, the following steps will help ensure a satisfactory outcome.

1. Meet with a Family Lawyer with Mediation Experience

The divorce mediator is a neutral party and doesn’t represent you or your spouse. Remember, the mediator cannot provide legal advice. Therefore, it is important that you have your own family attorney who understands and has experience with the divorce mediation process. In addition, when an agreement has been reached you’ll be able to take the Memorandum of Understanding to your divorce attorney for review.

2. Choose a Mediator Carefully

It is critical that you are comfortable with the personality and style of your chosen mediator. Therefore, it is recommended that you meet with two or three mediators before making your final decision.

The following are some questions to ask when interviewing potential mediators:

  1. What is your style mediation?
  2. Will my spouse and I meet with you in the same room, or will you back and forth between two rooms. Are mediation sessions ever conducted virtually?
  3. How far out are you currently scheduling meetings?
  4. Will you prepare, file, and process our divorce paperwork or will that be up to us?
  5. Do you charge a flat fee or require a retainer and then bill against that hourly?
  6. Have you had any mediation training or completed a certification program?

3. Be Prepared To Listen and Have an Open Mind

Going into your mediation be prepared to listen and have an open mind with the understanding that your spouse is likely to say things that are hurtful and not true. This may be intentional, but it also might not be. Remember, this is a painful and emotional process for both of you. Resist the temptation to lash back and instead trust that the mediator will see through unreasonable requests and attempts to spark contention. Do your best to stay calm and try not to interrupt or attack your spouse.

4. Gather Important Financial Documents Head of Time

Start gathering the necessary financial information early in the process. In order to negotiate effectively you need to have an understanding of the marital property and when it was acquired. Mediation requires full transparency to be successful. 

5. Consider What Do You Want?

One of the most important questions to ask yourself before going into mediation is, “What do you want?” what is it that you can’t live without? What are you willing to let go of so that you can get what you really want?

When asking yourself these questions, try to think about what you want in terms of interest-based goals versus position based goals.

Position-based Goals

A position based goal would be something like, “I want full custody of the children.”

Interest-based Goals

An interspace goal would be something like, “I want to be able to spend time with my children and maintain a close loving relationship.”

Focusing on interest-based goals will allow you to have a more effective negotiation and improve your chances of getting what it is you really want.

Learn More About How Divorce Mediation Encourages Solutions While Minimizing Stress

Perhaps the biggest advantage of mediation is that no one comes out of the process feeling like a victim. In a safe setting, with a neutral mediator, both parties can express their feelings, state their needs, exchange offers and settle on fair, mutually beneficial arrangements. Rather than pitting the parties against each other, mediation is a process whereby both participants can express their feelings without fear of reprisal.

To learn more about how our New Jersey divorce lawyer or a mediator can help you resolve your divorce in a peaceful and effective way, contact The Law Office of Andrew R. Fischer for a no-cost, no-obligation consultation.

Find Out If Divorce Mediation Is Right For You!

Find Out If Divorce Mediation Is Right For You!