WHAT IS A DIVORCE MEDIATION?
Family Mediation is a cooperative problem solving process. It helps divorcing couples to reach an agreement that is the fairest and free of biases to both parties through the guidance and support of an impartial trained mediator. It is a way for families who are divorcing to learn to deal with the changes in roles, duties, and opportunities and to face those changes with emotional balance. Thus, divorce mediation is far less hostile than litigation, which is particularly beneficial when there are children involved, and is considerably less expensive than a traditional adversarial divorce.
WHAT IS LITIGATION?
Litigation is a traditional adversarial divorce process where each party has to hire an attorney who will represent and if necessary “fight” for the divorcing parties in court.Thus, the process of divorce will depend on the lawyer’s experience and aggressiveness rather than on the couple’s best interests for themselves and their children. Communication between parties is discouraged leaving each frustrated with the other and with the entire system. Clients have no control over their lives and often when neither the lawyers nor the clients can agree to anything, the limbo for the clients becomes a nightmare from the psychological stress and exhaustion of financial resources.
WHY IS MEDIATION A BETTER WAY TO DIVORCE?
Mediation has become a popular method of divorce and there are many reasons for that.In my opinion, one of the most important is that when couples prepare their own divorce agreement, making arrangements for themselves and their children rather than negotiating divorce matters with their lawyers, control stays in the hands of the couple, not the attorneys or the Courts. Therefore, it is very unlikely that such agreements are sabotaged. Research has also shown high rates of compliance with mediated divorce agreements compared to compliance in adversarial decrees.
HOW LONG DOES THE MEDIATION PROCESS TAKE?
The time varies because of the level of complexity of each case and other factors which a divorce may bring.Nevertheless, it almost always takes less time than litigating a divorce. Usually, three to fifteen hours are enough to mediate and resolve parenting, financial arrangements, and other possible issues of divorce.
IS MEDIATION A LEGAL WAY TO DIVORCE?
Mediation is an absolutely legal way to divorce.Moreover, more and more people turn to mediation when divorce is forthcoming. It is easier on children, and also a faster, and cheaper way to divorce.
CAN I START MEDIATION IF I AM ALREADY INVOLVED IN AN ADVERSARIAL DIVORCE?
Couples can choose to go to a family mediator at almost any stage before the divorce is finalized.Couples often turn to mediation services for a multitude of reasons. Frequently they find the process a better alternative when the divorce fight creates so much stress for the children it impacts their everyday life. Mediation is also frequently valued as a 2nd chance for divorcing couples who find their resources exhausted before vital decisions are made. Just tell your attorneys to stop further work until you explore the mediation process.
WE DO NOT WANT TO FILE FOR DIVORCE YET. CAN MEDIATION HELP US TO WORK OUT A SEPARATION AGREEMENT?
Although New Jersey law does not provide for a formal legal separation, you and your spouse can agree to live separately and to resolve all financial and child-related issues in a written agreement. Divorce mediation in NJ is an excellent choice to work out the terms of your agreement that both parties will honor without filing for divorce.
WHY DO I NEED TO HIRE A LAWYER IF I CHOOSE MEDIATION?
Mediation is not a lawyer free process. However, the role of the attorney in mediation differs from the one in contested divorces. The divorcing parties are usually encouraged to obtain legal counsel for the purpose of providing answers to specific questions of law, to review the terms of their agreement from a legal standpoint, and to prepare any documents to be filed with a court.
WHAT ARE GROUNDS FOR A DIVORCE?
New Jersey law provides the following grounds for the divorce:
New Jersey law now includes “irreconcilable differences” as grounds for divorce.
Extreme cruelty (physical or mental).
Willful desertion for at least 12 months.
Habitual drunkenness or voluntary addiction.
Institutionalization for mental illness for at least 24 consecutive months.
Imprisonment for at least 18 consecutive months.
Deviant sexual conduct.
DO WE NEED TO STATE A REASON FOR THE DIVORCE?
As of January 2007 New Jersey law now includes “irreconcilable differences” as grounds for divorce.This means that a Complaint for Divorce can assert the existence of irreconcilable differences which have caused a breakdown of the marriage for six or more months. Otherwise, you would need to present the court with the grounds for your divorce. Possible grounds for the divorce are listed above.
DOES FAULT MAKE A DIFFERENCE?
The fault or wrongdoing of a party in a divorce action has no bearing on how assets will be divided that were acquired during the marriage.So even though fault is an emotional factor in a divorce, it has no influence on the terms of the final settlement.
WHAT IS EQUITABLE DISTRIBUTION?
The division of the marital property of the divorcing couple that came to the parties during the marriage is called equitable distribution.Usually it does not include any gifted or inherited property. Thus, the divorcing parties shall identify the marital property and determine its worth in order to negotiate the division of it. The residence, the automobiles, the bank accounts, stocks, bonds, and other tangible possessions are examples of marital property.
WHAT DOES CONTESTED VS. UNCONTESTED DIVORCE MEAN?
In a small number of cases -no more than 5%- the parties negotiate a settlement before any action is begun in the courts.It is only after a settlement is resolved that either one files a suit for divorce. Because all issues of support, property distribution and custody have already been resolved, the only relief sought by suit for divorce is the dissolution of the marriage. The couple is not asked to award custody, alimony, child support or property to either party because the parties have already reached agreements on these matters. This is the simple, uncontested divorce. For the other 95% of divorces the process is not so simple. It begins as a contested matter as one spouse sues the other for divorce. The other spouse may also file a counterclaim asserting his/her own claim for divorce. In such contested actions the court is asked to resolve the child related and economic issues. Here the future of the divorcing couple is determined by the decisions of the court rather than the decisions of the parties themselves. The irony of the contested divorce however is that very few divorce lawyers actually go to trial. The most common outcome of divorce litigation is a negotiated settlement and less than 2% of the cases actually end up in front of a judge.
WHAT ARE THE CHILD SUPPORT GUIDELINES?
The Courts have adopted guidelines intended to provide guidance as to what it actually costs to raise children following their parents’ divorce.The Guidelines fix a range of support that should be paid by both parents, proportionate to their incomes. Childcare costs are considered separately. Very often in mediation, child support guidelines are used as a baseline and child support amounts may deviate and be negotiated beyond those in the guidelines. The divorcing parties, when negotiating child support, will take into consideration their actual budgets and their children’s needs.