The courts will often mandate that couples enter into mediation in order to attempt to resolve their family law or divorce issues. Weinberger Divorce & Family Law Group has experienced New Jersey attorneys who can also assist with court mandated mediation. Depending on the issues involved, the New Jersey family court currently has two court mandated mediation programs in which divorcing couples can participate.
- Court Mandated Mediation for Custody and Parenting Time Issues
- Court Mandated Mediation for Economic Issues
Court Mandated Mediation for Custody and Parenting Time Issues
After a Complaint for Divorce has been filed with the court, indicating that there is a New Jersey child custody dispute, a court date is then scheduled for the divorcing couple to appear at court without their attorneys for a court appointed mediation session. The primary goal of the NJ court appointed mediator is to assist the couple in reaching a mutual agreement regarding child custody and parenting time. An amicable resolution is often the best way to keep a family relationship intact which is beneficial to everyone involved. This court mandated mediation session does not have any associated cost or charge.
In order to achieve a child custody, child visitation, and parenting plan that is workable for your unique situation, the divorce mediation process offers both parties an opportunity to express their respective positions. It is important to note, however, that the court mediator does not make any decisions during these confidential sessions. While the mediator may make suggestions to facilitate an appropriate agreement, the divorcing New Jersey couple ultimately remains in control of the final outcome. Since these court mandated mediation sessions are confidential and non-binding, if there is an agreement between the parties, the mediator must send an outline of the agreement’s terms and provisions to the attorneys. In order for the agreement to become a fully enforceable Court Order, the attorneys must formalize this outline into a Consent Order which then must be signed by the parents, the attorneys, and the judge.
Court Mandated Mediation for Economic Issues
The second court mandated mediation only occurs if the financial issues of the case are not resolved after the Early Settlement Panel date. In this event, the couple is again required to attend mediation, but this time with an NJ economic mediator whose main focus is on resolving any outstanding financial and economic issues. Prior to the first session, each party may present written position papers, along with a copy of the Case Information Statement. It is important to note that unlike the child custody mediation sessions, only the first 2 hours of time with the economic mediator are free of charge. If you and your spouse choose to continue with the economic mediation sessions, payment at the mediator’s hourly rate will be billed to both parties.
As with a private mediator, the economic mediator does not make any decisions and the sessions are confidential and non-binding. If there is an agreement between the parties, the New Jersey economic mediator will send an outline of the terms and provisions of the agreement to the attorneys in a document called the “Memorandum of Understanding.” Once the details are confirmed, the attorneys will then formalize the outline into a Consent Order to be signed by both parties, the attorneys, and the judge. Once the Consent Order is signed, it becomes fully enforceable. This agreement may ultimately become the Marital Settlement Agreement or Property Settlement Agreement, which would be the divorcing couple’s final enforceable settlement document.
Please understand that court mandated mediation occurs at a specific time during the divorce process, however, private divorce mediation can be entered into at any time. To better help you understand the legal divorce process in New Jersey we offer a Divorce Road Map describing the various stages which could include court appointed mediation. If you need additional assistance, please contact us to schedule a consultation with one of the New Jersey divorce, matrimonial and family law mediators at Weinberger Divorce & Family Law Group, LLC. During your consultation, you will learn how our New Jersey mediators will help resolve your NJ divorce or family law matter.