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What do I Need to Know About Court Mandated Mediation in New Jersey?

The process of mediation is a common alternative to a litigated divorce or family law matters. Mediation involves the participation of both parties as well as an unbiased third-party mediator to help divorcing spouses or parents reach conclusions regarding their issues. Generally, this is a voluntary process that parties can choose to engage in. However, there are cases in which the court will mandate that couples enter into mediation to resolve their divorce or family law issues. Depending on the situation, the court may order participation in mandated mediation for custody and parenting time issues and/or economic issues. Continue reading below to learn more and contact an experienced New Jersey divorce mediation attorney for assistance with your case.

Court Mandated Mediation for Custody and Parenting Time Issues

When mediation is court appointed, the main goal is to help the couple in question reach mutual agreements regarding the issues they have with custody and parenting time. It allows parents to negotiate their own parenting plans in order to reach amicable decisions. It is important to note that the court mediator does not make decisions for the parents during this time, Instead, they can make suggestions in order to facilitate conversation regarding these topics. This is a much healthier process for all parties involved rather than escalating emotions through litigation.

It is important to be aware that court mandated mediation does not have any associated costs or charges. It is also a confidential and non-binding process. When both parties reach agreements, the mediator can outline the terms to be reviewed by both parties and their attorneys. This must be formalized into a Consent Order by being signed by both parties, their attorneys, and the judge. Once this takes place, the agreement can become an enforceable court order.

Court Mandated Mediation for Economic Issues

This type of court mandated mediation may take place if a couple’s financial issues in their case are not resolved after the Early Settlement Panel date. The main goal of an economic mediator is to resolve any outstanding financial and economic issues. There are a couple of ways this process is different from parenting mediation. During economic mediation, the spouses’ attorneys often participate. If either party has a complex financial situation, their attorney may prepare a written position statement to be presented to the mediator for review. Another way economic mediation is different from parenting mediation is the cost. It is important to know that only the first two hours of time with an economic mediator is free of charge. Spouses who choose to continue the process will be billed for the mediator’s hourly rate.

Similar to other types of mediation, economic mediators do not make decisions for the spouses and these sessions are both confidential and non-binding. When agreements are made, the mediator can send an outline of the terms to each party’s attorney in a document known as the “Memorandum of Understanding.” The document can be formalized into a Consent Order when it is signed by both parties, their attorneys, and the judge. This is when it becomes fully enforceable. This agreement can become the marital settlement agreement or property settlement agreement. 

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If you need an experienced legal team to guide you through your divorce, contact Townsend, Tomaio & Newmark L.L.C today.