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 assist with court mandated mediation. Depending on the issues involved, the New Jersey family court may order a divorcing couple to participate in one or both of two court mandated mediation programs.
- 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. Allowing parents to negotiate their own parenting plan is often the best way to keep interactions amicable, which is beneficial to everyone involved. This court mandated mediation session does not have any associated cost or charge.
In order to help you construct a child custody and child visitation plan that is workable for your unique situation, the divorce mediation process will offer both parents an opportunity to express their respective positions. It is important to note 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. The court mandated mediation sessions are confidential and non-binding. If the parties reach agreement, the mediator will create an outline of the terms and provisions. If the parties are represented by attorneys, the mediator will provide the attorneys with a copy of this outline. The parties will then have a chance to review the details with their respective attorneys. In order for the agreement to become a fully enforceable Court Order, the outline must be formalized into a Consent Order which the parties file in a court after it has been signed by the parents, their 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. Unlike parenting mediation, attorneys often participate in economic mediation. If you have complex financial issues, it may be extremely helpful for you to have an attorney prepare a written position statement before the session. The mediator will often devote a considerable amount of time reviewing such statements, along with each parties up to date 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, the mediator will bill both of you for payment at the mediator’s hourly rate.
Like all mediators, including private mediators, economic mediators do 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, their attorneys, and the judge. Once the Consent Order is signed and filed in court, 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. By way of contrast, 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.