Mediation is one process of alternate dispute resolution. Divorce mediation is a process that is used to help reach an amicable agreement without a lengthy court battle. The mediator is a neutral third-party, trained to facilitate negotiations between the parties with the goal of reaching an amicable resolution. If resolution is achieved, the mediator prepares a Memorandum of Understanding which is a written, confidential, and non-binding document used to aid the parties in reaching final settlement. Effective representation of clients participating in mediation requires the same level of preparation, diligence and assertiveness required in any case. The outcome of a mediation session depends, to a large degree, on the preparation of both the attorney and the client, as well as the ability of the client to compromise on settlement terms. Having served as a mediator, or representing a client in a divorce mediation, we know that what lawyers do can make a big difference in the outcome.
Frequently Asked New Jersey Divorce Mediation Questions
How is divorce mediation different from litigation?
In traditional litigation, there are procedures and time frames imposed by the Court and Court Rules relative to evidence and discovery must be followed. Conversely, mediation is a more flexible process, empowering the parties to control the negotiations and settlement, and to use stipulations for items such as the value of the marital home.
Do I need a lawyer?
While not required, it is encouraged that an attorney accompany a client as a divorce mediator. This is a discussion that will be undertaken with each individual client, based on the facts and circumstances of their particular matter. At Lawrence Law, we are familiar with the this process. All of our attorneys are experienced divorce mediators and can advise a client during the mediation process. Since the mediator cannot give the parties legal advice, having an attorney accompany a client during the sessions is prudent.
Is mediation effective?
Mediation can work for a vast majority of clients. This is because it enables clients to make decisions and fashion solutions outside of what a Court would be able to do for the parties in a traditional litigation situation. At Lawrence Law, we have successful resolved many cases via mediation, whether via a court-ordered or private process.
How long does divorce mediation take?
It may take one session if the matter does not involve complex issues. An agreement may usually be negotiated and fashioned in 2-3 sessions. Sessions usually last two to three hours, but the parties may choose to expand those sessions.
How much does mediation cost?
The cost of mediation is usually much lower than litigation, as it is typically a more expedited process.
What are the issues to be negotiated in divorce mediation?
All issues are capable of being mediated. For example, issues that may be negotiated include custody, parenting time, child support, college tuition, alimony/spousal support and equitable distribution (the division of property and assets).
When should divorce mediation be considered?
The decision to commence with a divorce mediator is an individual one which you should discuss with an attorney. At Lawrence Law, we can discuss the benefits of mediation and if it is right for you. 98-99% of all cases settle and often with the use of a mediator. Also, parties may choose to mediate at any stage. It can commence prior to the filing of a Complaint for divorce, or even when the parties are already well into the litigation process.
How does mediation work for couples who cannot get along?
Parties can participate using a process called caucusing. A caucus is a private meeting with the mediator, that is confidential. The mediator will go between the parties and discuss the issues of concern. If the parties cannot meet in the same room, the use of caucus can enable the parties to still mediate. This is often referred to as shuttle diplomacy and the mediator goes back and forth between conference rooms to individually meet with the parties.
What happens if one party refuses to participate?
Mediation is a voluntary process. When the parties are involved in divorce litigation, there will come a time that the court will order the parties to attend economic mediation.
What should we expect from the mediator?
The mediator will listen to each party’s concerns and goals. The mediator will guide the parties as they negotiate and fashion their agreement and help facilitate the resolution of issues.