When divorcing spouses cannot or will not work out their differences, they may end up before the courts in a divorce trial. The trial itself often takes several days, if not weeks, and the hearings that precede the trial can take months or even years in some cases. Is there an alternative to this frequently drawn out process? Yes. It’s a way to divorce known as mediation. As a divorce process, mediation can save couples time (and money) and the stress of a divorce trial.
Courts in New Jersey are strong supporters of mediation and typically attempt to get couples to settle their differences outside of the courtroom. Courts are busy and overloaded with all types of family law matters and judge’s schedules are stretched. Divorces can linger for up to one year in the traditional system, if couples refuse to attempt to work together to come up with their own agreement.
Mediation can not only be a cost saver, but also a time saver. The mediation process uses a neutral mediator to assist the couple to identify the necessary issues that need to be addressed and to help them create reasonable solutions that work well for them and their lives. Mediators can also recommend and work with necessary experts such as financial advisors or custody professionals if needed. Couples approach mediation with a desire to work together to reach a resolution of their issues. Mediators are trained in New Jersey and can address all types of family issues such as custody, parenting time, spousal support and equitable distribution of property.
Hopefully, the couple can come to a resolution after one or two sessions with their mediator. Once an agreement is reached, the mediator can put the agreement in writing and the couple can proceed to court to be divorced with their agreement as part of the final judgment. The judge does not look at the agreement and respects the parties’ wishes that this be the formal and final resolution of their divorce. One, perhaps two court appearances would be necessary, and the appearances would be fairly quick, depending on the court’s schedule.
Of course, every couple and every divorce are different. The mediator, while experienced in family law, should take the time to understand your specific circumstances and address your individual needs and the needs of your family. And, while every divorce may not be resolved through meditation, the majority are. Even if you are not able to work out every single issue, getting yourself to the table to hash out at least some of your problems is a great step. The more time you spend attempting to negotiate, the less time you will spend in a courtroom.
Attempt to sit down with your spouse, if possible, even before attending mediation. If you both are able to come up with some solutions prior to mediation, your divorce costs, in both time and money will be even less.
If you are thinking of filing for divorce and are interested in both cost and time saving for you and your family, please contact us today to schedule your initial consultation with one of our certified divorce and family law mediators.