Many New Jersey couples have come to the conclusion that the divorce process in America is not one size fits all. While some people who are going through a separation filled with animosity and heated emotions may be better taking their divorce through the legal system, other marriages can be terminated in a more amicable fashion. Mediation is just one court divorce alternative that allows couples to actively participate in the creation of their own divorce settlement, enabling them to part ways without the stress and bitterness often associated with protracted court litigation.
A look at divorce mediation
When couples enter into the mediation process, each party must be willing to work toward negotiating a divorce settlement. During a mediation session, a couple will discuss and resolve the terms of their divorce settlement under the direction of a neutral mediator. While a mediator is not permitted to give legal advice, the mediator is there to assist the couple arrange a settlement and to ensure all topics are resolved and that a comprehensive memorandum of understanding is created for incorporation into a Settlement Agreement. Once a Settlement Agreement is written incorporated same, the parties (and/or their attorneys) can file for divorce with the Court System and submit the Settlement Agreement to the Court for incorporation into a Judgment of Divorce so the divorce can be finalized.
Mediation vs. court divorce
Why choose mediation as opposed to the more traditional route? While this non-confrontational form of marriage dissolution is not ideal for every couple, it does offer certain advantages when compared to court litigation. According to the American Bar Association, these benefits include:
- Mediation can be less expensive, as there are no court costs associated with the process and only minimal court costs associated with the filing of the Complaint to procure the actual divorce after you have mediated a resolution.
- Mediation is quicker. Appointments for mediation sessions are more flexible, allowing couples to schedule the sessions around their personal schedule rather than have to wait for court dates and allowing them to proceed at their own pace.
- Couples are able to customize the details of their settlement to coincide with their specific situation, rather than leave the details up to a judge to determine based upon a limited set of facts and within the confines of the law.
- Couples are often more likely to comply with their divorce decree when they have had an active role in creating the document, as they have ownership over what they have determined the outcome to be.
- Mediation is less formal than a court divorce. Since the sessions take place out of court, there are no legal restrictions involved. The laid-back environment encourages couples to openly discuss any issues they may have regarding their settlement.
Mediation is especially beneficial in cases where there are children present. Parents must, to some extent, maintain a relationship with one another in order to share custody of their children. Through mediation, couples are more likely to remain civil toward one another and act in the best interest of the children rather than harbor hateful feelings toward each other which can be perpetuated in protracted litigation.
Why an attorney is essential
Attorneys are not required to be present during the mediation process, it is extremely important and helpful to know your legal rights before starting the mediation process. Many people also choose to consult with their lawyers during mediation in order to gain legal advice about their options before committing to anything and many mediators will recommend same. Attorneys can help people, who are overwhelmed with the divorce process, make clear decisions when writing their divorce settlement, which will truly benefit their lives in years in come.
For more information, or to talk about your divorce options with one of our licensed and experienced New Jersey matrimonial law attorneys, give our office a call at 973-718-7705.