Practice Group Leader: James McGlew II
For some couples, divorce litigation is not their best option. Spouses who are prepared to work with each other to resolve their differences can often times be better served by the process of divorce mediation. Divorce mediation is a fair and less confrontational alternative to protracted divorce litigation. Parties involved in divorce mediation discover they have more individual control over the process thereby making it possible to avoid a lengthy and painful fought divorce and instead experience a process that is less stressful and easier to complete.
What is divorce mediation?
Divorce mediation is a private process for discussing and resolving the parental and financial issues that are part of your divorce. Rather than pursuing the resolution of disputes through the court system, couples voluntarily agree to work out issues between themselves with the assistance of a neutral third party (an accredited divorce mediator).
How does divorce mediation work?
First, a divorcing couple agrees to mediate its divorce. The couple selects a divorce mediator that is acceptable to both parties and schedules an initial session with the mediator. In this and subsequent sessions, the mediator will help the couple establish a fair and appropriate agreement on the parenting and financial issues that need to be resolved. After the issues of the mediation have been resolved, the mediator writes a Memorandum of Understanding that memorializes the agreement. This Memorandum of Understanding is then given by the couple to their individual lawyers for review. One of these attorneys will then convert the Memorandum into a Marital Settlement Agreement. The Marital Settlement Agreement is then reviewed by the other attorney, and, if it is acceptable, it is filed with the court.
What does the divorce mediator do?
An accredited divorce mediator is an independent third party who participates in private discussions about issues that need to be resolved between you and your spouse in order to dissolve your marriage. Divorce mediators are experienced in guiding couples to fair and reasonable agreements that will hold up before the judge who will ultimately grant your divorce. The mediator prepares the Memorandum of Understanding which is the document that memorializes the agreements made during the mediation process.
What is the benefit of having a divorce mediator?
An attorney’s responsibility is to protect their client’s rights, help them to understand their options and obligations and be an advocate for their interests. However lawyers are not always necessary for resolving each and every small issue that will be addressed during your divorce. Couples can save time, money and avoid unnecessary conflict, if they are prepared to work together with their spouse to resolve issues reasonably and fairly.
Lindabury’s Family Law group has two members, James McGlew and Frederick D’Arcangelo, who are trained and accredited as divorce mediators and regularly assist couples by serving as their divorce mediator.
What is the advantage of having a lawyer as a mediator?
Because the process of divorce is a legal one, it ultimately ends up in the legal system (before a judge). There is considerable advantage for a couple if the mediator is an attorney because he or she knows what the courts will require of divorce agreements in order for them to be deemed acceptable. An accredited mediator who is an attorney is also better suited to interpret current New Jersey divorce law as it pertains to the issues the couples are mediating.
What if we have children?
The mediation process is able to address issues of custody and parenting time-sharing with the children. The custody and care of children is a critical element in any divorce agreement and is a primary concern of the Court that no undue harm comes to the children as a part of any mediation agreement. Using the services of an accredited mediator with a thorough knowledge of New Jersey divorce law can be of particular advantage in mediating issues involving children so that the terms outlined in the Memorandum of Understanding are acceptable to the court.
What does it cost for the divorce mediator's services?
The divorce mediator is paid on an hourly basis. Sessions are usually scheduled for two hours, but the length of any session can be tailored to the parties’ schedules. The number of hours needed to achieve a resolution will depend on the complexity of the parenting and financial issues involved.
If you have additional questions or would like to speak with one of our Family Law attorneys about New Jersey divorce or divorce mediation, please contact us here.