Reading through a list of some of Hollywood’s nastiest divorce battles, we couldn’t help but notice that each case described offered a very valuable lesson in how to (and how not to) get what you want from your divorce. Call it a Hollywood teachable moment! In part 1 of our blog series on celebrity divorce, here are three particularly ugly divorces…and a takeaway message we can learn a thing or two from: Read more
When Ron left Mary after just shy of 10 years of marriage, he thought their divorce would be quick, clean and leave him free to pursue the life he always wanted. Because they didn’t have kids and Mary was steadily employed, Ron didn’t pay much attention to the divorce documents he filled out, just estimating as best he could on certain items, like his income and his own expenses. Read more
When Kevin and Jessica entered divorce mediation, they both immediately demanded “school night” custody of their 7-year old daughter Lilly. It became such a stalemate that it looked likely the pair would need to go before a judge. As a last resort, the mediator took each aside and asked them privately to explain the real goal of their custody demands — what did Kevin and Jessica really want? Read more
Maria and Shane had leased their Jersey City apartment for three years when the couple decided to get a divorce. Shane moved in with his brother while he looked for a new place to rent. Maria remained in the apartment and over the next few weeks, had the building superintendent change the locks and paid the rent herself on the first of the month. Read more
Due to the state’s judge shortage crisis, divorce trials in Essex County, home to the state’s busiest courthouse, have been on hold since December 2011. Still waiting for your day in court? Depending on the issues involved, it may be wise to ask your divorce attorney if a form of alternative dispute resolution is appropriate in your case. Two of the most popular alternatives to litigation include:
Mediation: If both parties are willing, private divorce mediation can accomplish the same goals as litigation, but comes with the added bonus of helping you feel more in control of the divorce process.
What Happens: In a typical divorce mediation session, you and your spouse sit down with your attorneys and a neutral professional known as the mediator (often a lawyer or retired judge). At first, you may take turns identifying your individual needs and wants. The mediator then tries to facilitate a settlement discussion, talking about compromises that might make sense in your situation. However, a mediator only makes recommendations when asked — his or her sole goal as a neutral professional is to get the parties to come to a resolution that they can both live with. It should be noted that this process is not recommended for divorces where abuse or domestic violence is present.
What Else to Know: Mediation is completely private and non-binding. Let’s say your July 14 court date is postponed and you give mediation a try, but it doesn’t work out to your satisfaction and you decide to go before a judge in the fall. The courts won’t know what happened behind closed doors, so nothing that happened during mediation can be used against you (nor can it be used against your spouse). With that said, however, mediation is so popular precisely because people are getting the results they want.
Arbitration: Getting divorced through arbitration is similar to mediation in that it’s confidential and an out-of-court type settlement, but the arbitrator is the one who in the end decides the terms of the divorce, much the same as a judge.
What Happens: In a typical arbitration session, a neutral arbitrator–often a lawyer or retired judge–sits in a room with a stenographer and takes testimony. Unlike the give and take of mediation, you need to go into an arbitration meeting prepared and ready to present your case to this person in the exact same way you would a judge. After listening to both sides, the arbitrator deliberates and then hands down a binding decision that you will need to live with (or go to court to appeal).
What Else to Know: If you feel you have a very strong case and have demands that you know your spouse will not compromise to meet, this type of alternative dispute resolution may be the route to take. For those who want a third part to make a decision, but don’t want to linger in court system limbo over the summer, arbitration can be a very efficient way to reach a settlement.
With the school year winding down across New Jersey, summer camp season is just around the corner. If you went to camp as a kid and now have kids of your own, you know how much summer fun awaits. But when you are a parent in the midst of a divorce, warm feelings about camp may need to be put aside until you can answer the burning question: who is going to pay? Read more
Worried about your retirement? You are not alone, especially when it comes to the question of dividing that nest egg you’ve worked so hard to save and build up. Divorce can be a devastating event, but it doesn’t need to ruin your retirement. For tips on how to protect your funds, here are six steps towards a more secure financial future: Read more
Long-term illness can be brutal on a couple’s finances. When one partner is too sick to work, but the other can’t afford to pay for healthcare — something that often happens when one spouse has cancer, whether you have insurance or not — it can drain a family’s hard-earned resources. Read more