No matter what others might tell you, no one really wins when a couple goes through a divorce. If you or your spouse are contemplating divorce, it may be tempting to view the breakdown of your marriage as an opportunity to get even, to be made whole, get what you deserve or, sadly, to make sure your soon-to-be ex gets what he or she has coming.
As it turns out, this perspective is not healthy. Not for you, not for your spouse, and certainly not for any children the two of you may have.
The more you fight over custody of the children, cars and bank accounts (among other things), the greater the animosity, the messier the conflict and the higher the legal bills. These are but a few of the reasons why a protracted legal battle should be avoided at all costs.The Alternative.
Fortunately, there is an alternative you can and, if possible, should pursue: mediation. The mechanism of divorce mediation in Northern NJ is available to married couples who have the courage and the desire to work out their differences with minimal confrontation while retaining the ability to consider the long-term impact of a protracted divorce battle for themselves, their children and their relationships with other family members and friends.
If you are in the process of getting a divorce (or soon will be), here is some of what you can expect if you proceed via divorce mediation in Northern NJ.
Minimal process, fewer procedures.
As is the case in the rest of the state, divorce mediation in Northern NJ provides an environment in which the parties can engage in conversation rather than confrontation.
Although there are situations in which a court may order parties to mediation (see below), chances are that spouses who have agreed to take advantage of this alternative are engaged in a civil, if not amiable, divorce.
Very little legal preparation is required and a judge will likely not be involved unless you and your spouse find yourselves in dispute about a particular item (vacation schedule for visitation rights, for example). As a result, your divorce is likely to avoid becoming a protracted legal matter.
More Control Over the Things that Matter.
Mediation permits the parties to have greater control over how matters proceed. In the absence of lawyers or a judge, you and your spouse will be responsible for moving the process along. While it’s true that a mediator is also involved, he or she assumes more of a background role. In fact, a mediator’s primary responsibility is to facilitate communication between the two of you.
A mediator must remain wholly impartial and will likely only take a more active part in the process when recommendations seem necessary or appropriate for moving the proceedings towards resolution.
So long as you and your spouse are making progress in resolving matters, your divorce mediation in Northern NJ will involve little interference or input from the mediator.
It should be noted, however, that the mediator does have one additional duty: to serve as a source for information or clarification that either of you may require.
How Much Does Mediation Cost in NJ?
Divorce mediation in Northern NJ is normally less expensive than going through the court system for a divorce.
Unless matters go sideways at some point during the process, a mediation permits the two parties to work on resolving all matters related to the divorce without the constant involvement of attorneys.
There are no significant procedural hurdles or steps that need to be followed in order to take the next step (and then the step after that and so on), nor is preparation for hearings or trial necessary.
If it goes according to plan, your mediation will result in your attorney having less to do and you will have fewer legal fees to pay. In light of the fact that a divorce is often the catalyst for financial uncertainty for one or both parties, minimizing legal expenses is beneficial to everyone involved.
The Opportunities are Endless.
Divorce mediation in Northern NJ provides opportunities to resolve many matters related to the dissolution of a marriage including, among others:
- A final divorce order/decree
- LGBTQ relationship issues, if any
- Division of marital property and the equitable distribution of such things as real estate, investments, jewelry, artwork, cars, etc.
- Custody of children of the marriage/marital home
- Visitation rights and parenting plans related to holidays, vacations, grandparents, etc.
- Child support. This includes allocation of extraordinary expenses incurred on behalf of the children such as medical costs or costs associated with education or travel expenses.
As mentioned prior, spouses are sometimes directed by the court to engage in divorce mediation in Northern NJ.
Any unresolved dispute regarding custody or visitation (collectively referred to in New Jersey as parenting rights) can often result in a court-ordered mediation.
There is an exception if there was domestic violence in the marriage and a court has imposed a temporary or permanent restraining order against one of the parties. Because such a restraining order involves legal matters in addition to divorce, it takes precedence over any order a family court may have issued prior.
If you and your spouse are unable to agree as to the division of property, payment of debts incurred by you jointly or any other matter regarding finances associated with the marriage, you may end up in a court-ordered mediation situation.
A court may also order what is referred to as therapeutic mediation if the relationship between a child and one or both parents has been significantly damaged.
The court has the discretion to order any other matter related to the divorce to mediation.
The Decision to Participate.
The decision to participate in divorce mediation in Northern NJ voluntarily is, of course, up to you and your spouse. Needless to say, mediation isn’t appropriate in all cases.
The following are factors to be considered when determining whether it’s right for you:
- Is the divorce mutual?
- If the divorce is not mutual, are you and your spouse able to communicate about the dissolution of your marriage in as civil and objective a manner as possible?
- Do you both believe you can maintain a respectful relationship throughout the process?
- Are you able to agree on how to manage the finances related to expenses incurred by the marriage/marital home (including children, if any)?
- Have you concluded whether one or both of you should manage those finances?
- Have you been/will you be able to agree to the division of property of the marriage including real estate, vehicles, and other assets?
- Will you be able to avoid any serious disputes regarding alimony, maintenance, custody and visitation rights and child support?
Divorce mediation in Northern NJ is available to almost all couples seeking a dissolution of their marriage. An experienced family law attorney at Fontanella, Benevento, Galluccio & Smith can provide you the information and advice you need to determine whether mediation is appropriate under your set of circumstances.