Divorce is often a challenging experience. A couple may have irreconcilable differences that prevent effective communication. These differences sometimes necessitate a courtroom divorce, where a judge can oversee important issues like property division and child custody.
New Jersey families have other options available, however. Many couples find success drafting divorce agreements through a process called mediation.
What is mediation?
Mediation is a legally-binding option for individuals with civil disputes. Popular between business partners, mediation allows parties to resolve their disputes outside of a courtroom, focusing on perspective sharing and compromise to preserve a working relationship. Judges may rule that civil cases seek resolution through mediation to clear a court’s schedule for cases with higher stakes.
Using mediation for divorce provides the following benefits:
- Choice of neutral mediator: A neutral mediator, agreed upon beforehand by both spouses, will guide the discussion toward a mutually beneficial resolution. A mediator will employ empathy and listening skills during the negotiations, helping spouses understand each other’s concerns and needs.
- Confidentiality: A couple, particularly co-parents, can appreciate that everything said in mediated negotiations will remain confidential. Courtroom litigation is a matter of public record, so anything a spouse may say during the proceedings could potentially resurface in future disputes. Mediation keeps these often unfortunate utterances private.
- Easier scheduling: Mediated negotiations do not depend on court schedules and can happen in almost any neutral location and fit any timeline. A court may schedule a civil divorce case months, or even years, into the future.
- Affordable fees: Independent from the courts, a divorcing couple will pay much less for their divorce. Lawyers generally charge lower rates for representation during mediation, and some courts will even cover the mediator’s fees.
- Satisfactory resolutions: Mediation asks that the disputing individuals draft their legally-binding resolution together. Spouses can take ownership of the proceedings and will feel personally invested in the agreement. A judge may not rule for a mutually beneficial resolution in a courtroom, which may leave spouses feeling slighted or resentful afterward.
Consult with an attorney
Anyone with questions about mediated divorce agreements may find answers with a local lawyer experienced in family law. An attorney can also help navigate the dense paperwork often involved in splitting an estate.