Ways to Achieve a Lower Cost Divorce: Mediation and Other Alternative Dispute Resolutions
If couples wish, they can certainly spend thousands and thousands of dollars on a long, drawn-out and exhausting divorce. But, why would anyone want to do this?
Without question, divorcing couples do not go into the process thinking that they would like to overspend on attorney’s fees and unnecessary litigation. However, couples who are unwilling or unable to approach the divorce process with the idea of compromising will undoubtedly end up wondering how any why they spent so much money on their divorce.
Divorce is a difficult and unpleasant time in any person’s life. There can be all types of emotions: from anger to hurt and everywhere in between. The key to a lower-cost divorce is being able to set aside these emotions, and proceed with the idea of coming to an agreement with your soon-to-be ex. Of course, this isn’t easy. But, in the long run, you will end up with more control over your future and more dollars in your wallet.
Traditionally, divorce has been legally adversarial, but as time has gone on, courts and parties decided that this is not ideal. In fact, all courts in New Jersey today strongly encourage lawyers and their divorce clients to settle their own matters, outside of the courtroom. Honestly, wouldn’t you rather come up with your own settlement agreement instead of leaving the decisions to a judge, who is a complete stranger?
Many family law attorneys today are becoming certified family law and divorce mediators in response to the need and desire for less contentious divorce matters. Mediators sit down with the couple and help them to come to an understanding and, hopefully, a final settlement agreement. According to the New Jersey Association of Professional Mediators, the mediator, through training and specialized knowledge, facilitates the parties in addressing all of these matters. Where appropriate, the mediator may recommend that the parties also use the services of experts in addressing specific issues. Mediation may also be used in family matters such as prenuptial agreements, grandparent issues, domestic partnerships, and post-divorce disputes.
A newer approach to divorce here in New Jersey is called the Collaborative Divorce. Much like mediation, the husband and wife agree to sit down and work with each other towards a fair resolution. However, in this process, both parties agree, in writing to not bring their issues to court. In a collaborative divorce, both parties’ attorneys are present during the negotiation process, which takes place during settlement conferences. There is no mediator present, but lawyers who practice Collaborative Law have usually received training similar to a mediator and can offer the parties similar benefits, in addition to legal advice.
In collaborative divorces, the attorneys work with their clients and the other professionals where necessary to encourage communication and ensure a balanced outcome that is acceptable to both sides. When an agreement is reached, the lawyers prepare a draft of the document, which the parties review prior to signature.
If you are considering filing for divorce and wish to explore different options than traditional litigation, please contact us to schedule your initial consultation with one of our trained mediators or collaborative divorce attorneys.
Mediation, Collaborative Divorce, or Litigation: What’s Right For Me?