Family Law Carries on During the Coronavirus Crisis

Jeralyn Lawrence Interview by Jessie Frees of WMTR 1250 AM Radio Station – Part II

Jessie Frees of WMTR 1250 AM Radio Station’s host of Ask The Expert interviewed Divorce and Family Lawyer Jeralyn Lawrence.  This is Part II of a five part series of transcripts from the radio interview with Jeralyn.

Ask The Expert Host Jessie Frees of WMTR 1250 AM Radio Station Interview with Divorce and Family Law Attorney Jeralyn Lawrence – Part II

The following is a continuation of Jeralyn Lawrence’s interview with “Ask the Expert” host Jessie Frees on WMTR 1250 AM a station streaming live on wmtram.com and talkstreamlive.com.

Jess: What is the difference between divorce mediation and divorce collaboration? Could you just get that out of the way for us?

Jeralyn: The main goal of any divorce is to reach what’s called a marital settlement agreement or a property settlement agreement. You’ll hear those words used interchangeably. That’s the goal. They’ve reached that agreement. 97%, 98% of all people going through a divorce are able to reach this agreement.

They’re able to sign that contract and they can get divorced. Now, with the pandemic, most people are getting divorced by mail. You don’t even have to go to court. That’s the goal, but there are different paths and processes that you can take to get you to that agreement.

Some people go out for a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, and they sketch out their terms on a piece of paper, take it to the lawyer and the lawyer can draft a marital settlement. Some people are not able to do that. And that becomes a stressful conversation.

We may talk about hiring a lawyer to serve in the role of a mediator. A mediator is a neutral third party that meets with the parties going through the divorce and the lawyers may also be part of that. They are facilitating the conversation between the clients. Zoom has been a wonderful platform for that as well.

When we used to be in person, you would go from conference room to conference room. Now with Zoom, it’s just a click of a button. You can go room to room. The mediator is just doing shuffled diplomacy. Going from room to room, and talking to both sides, listening to hear some commonalities, some common ground trying to build some momentum and reach an agreement.

That is why the parties are hiring a facilitator, a neutral third party, a mediator and meditating, and trying to reach a resolution. The mediator then would draft what’s called the memorandum of understanding.

This is not a binding document until the lawyer converts that into that ultimate marital settlement agreement that I had mentioned earlier.

That’s one process. Another process that is wonderful as well, (I love mediation as well.) is a collaborative divorce.

Collaborative divorce has been happening across our entire country. It’s relatively new to New Jersey, but it’s been here for several years back in 2014. Again, we worked with the legislature to codify collaborative law into our statute. It’s protected legally, the process is confidential. In the collaborative process, the parties have to be committed to settling their case. They are signing a contract obligating them to settle their case. This document is called the participation agreement.

If you sign a collaborative participation agreement, that means you are committed to settling your case and in the unfortunate and unlikely event that you’re not able to settle your case, your entire team has to get out of your case.

Meaning, if you signed a participation agreement with me as your collaborative attorney and we can’t settle your case, then you can no longer have me as your attorney.

You would need to go hire another lawyer. You say, oh my goodness, and that’s exactly the intent behind it. It’s trying to incentivize people to not take their toys from the sandbox when they get frustrated and maybe things aren’t going their way in the negotiation, but to kind of stick with it, figure out why are things not going that way?

Consult a New Jersey Family Lawyer

Divorce is a challenging emotional time. There is never a good time for a divorce. Schedule a consultation with one of our New Jersey family law attorneys who all specialize in divorce and family law at 908-645-1000 to learn how we can guide you through the emotional journey of divorce and related matters to a desired outcome and better place.









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