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Can two litigants use one mediator in New Jersey?

Mediation Lawyers serving Whippany, Parsippany, Randolph, and Mount Olive and across Northern New Jersey

If you and your spouse choose to use a mediator to attempt to reach a settlement in your divorce, there are a number of benefits personally, financially, legally, and as it relates to the health of your children and overall family structure. Among all of these prospective benefits in each category of mediation, one positive aspect remains consistent across the board, you and your spouse maintain control. If you and your spouse can remain amicable, and both parties come to the table with reasonable expectations and a willingness to listen and compromise, you remain much more in control or “in the driver’s seat” with your spouse.

In contrast, once you are in the courtroom many of the difficult decisions that need to be made are impacted or determined by a judge’s discretion. In most cases, you are required to accept these terms once the judge has ruled. After the divorce is finalized, you always have the option to file a post-divorce modification claim, which will mean further litigation, more time, and more of a financial investment for both parties. Private mediation, when successful, can also put you in a better position to successfully co-parent and set up a custody and visitation plan that works for both parties.

One frequent question I get is can two litigants use one mediator? And the answer is yes, that a mediator can mediate a matrimonial matter for two litigants and it is the litigant’s decision as to whether they come with attorneys or they come without attorneys. I have mediated many cases without lawyers involved and getting two parties to come to a successful settlement. I have also mediated, more often, with lawyers on the other side, and my theory is the best mediator is a matrimonial litigator.

Privately Mediator in Morris County NJ

Mediation is one of the most frequently used methods of negotiating a divorce settlement. In divorce mediation, you and your spouse—or, in some cases, the two of you and your respective lawyers—hire a neutral third party, called a mediator, to meet with you in an effort to discuss and resolve the issues in your divorce. The mediator doesn’t make decisions for you but serves as a facilitator to help you and your spouse figure out what’s best.

In private mediation, the parties decide which matters they want to resolve through mediation. Even resolving one or two issues can save time and money. Issues that are not worked out can be resolved through litigation. Private mediation is aimed at resolving all issues within the divorce including alimony, child support, custody and parenting time, etc. If an agreement is reached, the divorce can be drawn up and filed as an uncontested divorce.

Financial Implications of Private Mediation in NJ

Unlike the court-appointed process, a private mediator is tasked to review and help reach an agreement on all terms of the divorce, including child custody and economic issues. Both topics, if applicable, are negotiated right away and can help reduce the amount of time it takes to reach a resolution, therefore reducing cost if the parties agree on terms of the divorce.

Due to the fact that this option is a personal decision made by the divorcing couple, the cost of the mediation will fall on the individuals. Some, if not all of the court-appointed mediation costs are covered by the courts. However, a successful mediation will result in a significant reduction in overall legal fees due to the fact that neither party will have to pay what can amount to significant litigation fees.

If the mediation does not result in the submission of an uncontested divorce, where terms have been defined and agreed upon, then the mediation process will represent an additional cost on top of any litigation costs that can and will accumulate through the regular court process that follows.

Court Appointed Mediation Morristown NJ

Although the court requires mediation as the first step in the divorce process, it is not exactly the same with a court-appointed mediator as it would be if you and your spouse agree to privately retain a mediator. It is important to understand the differences and not operate under the common misconception that you will go through the mediation process through the courts so there is no need to entertain private mediation as an Alternative Dispute Resolution option.

Financial Implications of Court-Mandated Mediation in NJ

In New Jersey Courts, the judge can require mediation for child custody related issues and/or for economic issues. Often times the custody-related mediation is ordered first, and the cost is covered by the court. The judge may or may not order economic mediation after the fact, however, you can still rack up litigation fees in between the two mediation periods.

It is important to note and many people are not aware of the fact that the court only covers the cost of the first two hours of economic mediation. If the couple decides to continue with economic mediation, but have not reached a resolution after the two hour period, then the cost will fall on them.

Although it may seem like cost savings to allow the court to cover the custody and a portion of the economic mediation costs, it is important to remember that you will still be paying a private attorney throughout the process which will add to the overall economic burden on both parties.

Contact a Whippany Mediation Lawyer Today

Our partners alone have a combined 30 years of mediation experience and several of our attorneys are New Jersey Court Approved Family Mediators pursuant to court rule R.1:40-12. We supplement our knowledge and resources with a level of compassion and sensitivity that allows clients to feel safe and in control of the mediation process. Ultimately, it is our goal to empower you to speak and to be heard every step of the way.

To discuss your current situation and find answers to your questions, contact our divorce and family law mediation team today. Our Bergen County office can be reached at and our Morris County can be contacted at 973-840-8970, our you can schedule a time to come in via our contact form on the website.