Divorce can be a very stressful and complicated process, but for those in New Jersey, mediation provides an alternative to costly and lengthy litigation.
New Jersey law requires all divorcing couples to attempt to resolve conflicts through mediation before deciding to pursue resolution before a judge. Mediation offers couples privacy, confidentiality, lower costs, more control, and a swifter outcome. When conflicts can be resolved through mediation, there is a much more amicable relationship between the divorcees.
The South Jersey divorce mediation lawyers at Burnham Law Group have over 20 years’ experience in divorce mediation. Attorneys at our firm are committed to helping couples resolve conflicts, finalize property settlements, and determine child custody and support issues with minimal stress. We are dedicated to protecting the legal rights of our clients to ensure that their divorce settlement is in their best interest and that of their family.
Divorce Mediation Process
When a couple decides to divorce, one or both spouses file a petition with the court. Once this is done, mediation can begin. If there are children involved in the divorce, each parent must attend a mandatory Parent Education Program (PEP). This is a one-time session that will educate parents on New Jersey’s custody mediation system. While presenters will not address personal issues surrounding individual divorces, they will prepare parents for the custody mediation process.
In the custody mediation process, the divorcing couple will work out a parenting plan with the mediator that includes custody arrangements, visitation, support, and specific responsibilities for education, activities, and health decisions. The mediator will facilitate this process and will keep the couple focused on the best interests of the child. This process can be quite emotional, but with the help of an experienced mediator, couples can come to an amicable agreement.
The next step in the mediation process is the Matrimonial Early Settlement Panel (MESP). During this process, spouses will work with their mediator at the courthouse to present details of their marital assets to a panel of legal professionals who will make a recommendation for settlement. In the case where a couple owns a business or has high assets, they can request a blue-ribbon panel that specifically deals with high net worth divorces. If an agreement can be made on the distribution of the marital property, it can be finalized immediately.
Couples who have already gone through the parent education program and have established a parenting plan can then immediately meet with a judge and finalize their divorce. If the parenting plan is still in negotiations, or if the couple cannot reach an amicable property settlement, their lawyer will then request a court date.
Couples can also request an extension, to be granted by the judge, for further mediation. The mediator can continue negotiations with the couple in an attempt to reach an agreement that is acceptable to both parties. The mediator’s role continues to be that of a facilitator that guides the couple toward a resolution to their negotiations. If the mediation fails to reach an amicable settlement, the case will then be referred to the courts.
Time is Money
As in all divorce cases, the longer the proceedings go on, the more expensive the divorce becomes. Mediation offers couples the opportunity to collaborate and come to an agreement that is fair to both parties. When children are involved in a divorce, child custody and child support issues can become emotionally charged, which can significantly delay a settlement. Couples that keep the best interest of the children and their family as the focus of the mediation typically settle their divorce with less stress and lower expenses.
Choosing an experienced and qualified mediator is essential to an efficient process. Both spouses must choose a mediator that is knowledgeable in New Jersey divorce and family law, and who is respected by both parties. If a couple chooses to use a mediator that is not an attorney, it is imperative to consult with legal counsel before entering into the mediation process. Once settlements are finalized, it is very difficult to reverse or revise them.
South Jersey Divorce Lawyers at Burnham Law Group, LLC Help Divorcing Couples Reach Amicable Agreements Through Mediation
If you are considering a divorce in New Jersey, the South Jersey divorce mediation lawyers at Burnham Law Group, LLC can help you reach an amicable settlement that protects your legal rights and personal interests. Our experienced divorce mediation lawyers can handle all your mediation needs and also represent you in court, if necessary. We are committed to keeping your divorce as stress free and inexpensive as possible. Call us at 856-751-5505 or contact us online to schedule a consultation today. Our offices are conveniently located in Marlton and Somers Point, New Jersey and proudly serve clients throughout South Jersey, including those in Burlington County and Camden County.