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The Divorce Mediation Process

When considering mediation as a potential avenue for resolving your divorce in New Jersey, you may have many questions, the first of which is: how does the process actually work? Mediation represents an option within the ever-popularized approach of Alternative Dispute Resolution. Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is simply a legal term used to refer to the process of resolving disputes outside of the courtroom.

Although divorces have traditionally been resolved through litigation, mediation is now an attractive solution for many couples who seek to dissolve their marriages in a more cost-effective, time-efficient, and non-contentious manner. The process of mediation can foster communication and collaboration among both parties, allowing you to maintain control over the divorce process while resolving significant issues in an entirely confidential setting.

Understanding the Divorce Mediation Process in New Jersey

Who is Your New Jersey Divorce Mediator?

The mediator for your divorce is an objective third-party agreed upon by both you and your spouse who will serve as a listener, facilitator, and guide through negotiations. Your mediator is committed to serving both parties and will remain entirely neutral throughout the mediation process. He or she will seek to understand your respective needs and priorities and will provide creative solutions and recommendations for mutually-agreeable arrangements moving forward.

Unlike an arbitrator or judge, your mediator will not make unilateral or binding decisions for you and your spouse. His or her sole purpose is to help you explore options that may allow you and your spouse to resolve issues without lengthy and costly court proceedings. Whether and how specific issues are ultimately resolved remains in your hands through the entire process of mediation, meaning that if you and your spouse are unable to reach an agreement, you may proceed with your case in court. Notably, mediation can assist you in resolving all or even some of your points of disagreement, thus reducing the amount of time and cost necessary to resolve the remaining items in dispute through litigation.

Stages of a New Jersey Divorce Mediation

Although each mediation will proceed at its own pace based on the specific situation, the process typically follows a trajectory of stages. The American Bar Association summarizes the common steps of mediation as the following:

  • Intake Interview
  • Introduction Stage
  • Identifying the Issues
  • Exploring Solutions
  • Caucus
  • Writing an Agreement

When first meeting with your divorce mediator, he or she will spend a significant amount of time learning about your situation. During this initial consultation, your mediator will ask questions about a wide range of issues, including financial considerations (i.e. assets and debts), alimony or spousal support, parenting issues such as child custody and child support (if applicable), and previous legal agreements such as prenuptial agreements.

The number of sessions that follow will be based on the extent and complexity of the issues to be resolved, the time constraints and scheduling availability of both parties, and the willingness of both parties to reach mutually-agreeable resolutions. During these sessions, the mediator will facilitate discussion and provide potential solutions to be explored.

Once the parties reach an agreement on all of the issues to be addressed, the mediator will compose a written document outlining the results of the mediation. This written agreement, often referred to as a Memorandum of Understanding, can be submitted to the court for review, entered as final and thus, legally binding.

Meet our New Jersey Divorce Mediation Attorneys

At Townsend, Tomaio & Newmark, our highly experienced mediators are equipped with more than just the tools of mediation, they have a breadth of knowledge in divorce and family law. Decades of experience and a specialization in divorce and family law practice has led our firm to develop an integrated approach, as our mediators serve as both facilitators of the mediation process and invaluable legal resources regarding divorce. By enlisting our mediation services, you can rest assured that you will be provided with a comprehensive understanding of the implications of your decisions with regard to complex issues such as child custody, child support, alimony, and division of assets both inside and outside of the courtroom.

How quickly can a case be resolved through Mediation?

Our team of skilled mediators includes panelists for New Jersey’s Matrimonial Early Settlement Panel Mediation Programs, approved family law mediators pursuant to New Jersey Court Rule 1:40-12, and many who have served previously in New Jersey’s Family Court System. We leverage all of the knowledge and resources at our disposal to develop innovative solutions tailored to the specific needs of you and your family. To discuss your current circumstances and find answers to your questions, contact our offices in Hackensack, Bergen County at 201-897-6670 or Whippany, Morris County at 973-975-0476 for a free mediation consultation.

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