Mediation can be a desirable alternative to litigation for New Jersey divorcing couples. In mediation an unbiased third party, the mediator, guides the couple and helps them work towards an amicable solution. The most important factor is that both parties are committed to reaching an agreement that is fair and equitable. Each must be willing to see things from the other’s perspective.
Mediators do not have to be attorneys, but many are. It is helpful to have a mediator who is well versed in New Jersey divorce and family law. Although your mediator cannot offer advice, he or she can educate clients regarding the relevant laws.
If children are involved, the idea of their parents divorcing is often a traumatic experience. Using mediation rather than litigation may ease the stress. Seeing their parents communicating amicably and trying to work things out reasonably will likely relieve their anxiety about what the future holds.
Frequently Asked Questions
The answers to these questions can help you decide whether or not mediation is right for you:
- If the mediator is an attorney, do I also have to hire my own attorney?
Even if the mediator is an attorney, he or she does not represent you. Although not required, it may be advisable to hire an attorney to consult from time to time.
- Our divorce will involve high assets. Can we still use mediation?
Yes, as long as both parties are willing to work cooperatively and honestly, mediation can work.
- What issues can be decided through mediation?
All issues can be decided through mediation:
- If i start mediation and then decide I am unhappy with how it is going, can I pull out?
Yes, you can decide that mediation is not right for you.
- If i decide that mediation is not right for me, can the information I provided during mediation later be used against me in court?
No, unless previously agreed by you and your spouse, what you say in mediation is confidential and cannot later be used in court.
- I like my mediator, but my spouse and I have been unable to reach an agreement through mediation. Can I now hire my mediator to be my attorney?
No, you cannot hire your mediator to be your attorney. Neither can you hire another attorney from the same firm.
- How do the costs of litigation and mediation compare?
Mediation is usually less costly. That is because even if you also hire an attorney with whom to confer from time to time, mediation is almost always a shorter process.
- If my spouse and I reach an agreement through mediation, is that agreement binding?
No, mediation is not really a legal process. However, if an oral agreement is reached at mediation, it may be enforced as an agreement by the Court.
- Does the court ever order couples to participate in mediation?
Yes, the court mandates mediation for economic issues when these matters have not been resolved by the date of the Early Settlement Panel. It mandates mediation for child custody and parenting issues when a divorce complaint involving children is filed.
- What qualities in a couple’s relationship might make mediation more difficult?
These qualities might make mediation a problem:
- inability to communicate calmly and rationally with one another
- unwillingness of one or both to compromise
- one of the two feels intimidated by the other
- Are there any circumstances under which mediation is seldom advisable?
Yes, domestic violence in any form makes mediation an unwise choice.
The goal of divorce mediators is to encourage clients to communicate with one another in a non contentious manner so that they can reach an agreement that suits each party’s needs to the greatest extent possible.