About Divorce Mediation
Mediation is the process in which a trained neutral person, called a mediator, facilitates the resolution of a dispute between two or more parties. Mediation is non-adversarial with the objective of helping the parties reach a mutually acceptable agreement.
Mediation can be used to resolve any dispute but most commonly is used in family/divorce matters and civil/commercial matters. There are many advantages in using mediation in place of the legal proceedings where the parties become adversaries.
What Does the Mediator Do?
- Explains the mediation process
- Provides a supportive, non-confrontational setting in which to negotiate
- Assists the parties to understand and analyze the facts and issues
- Keeps the parties focused on the issues
- Helps the parties gain control of their dispute
- Facilitates creative and cost-effective solutions
Family and Divorce Mediation
Mediation is most commonly used when a couple has decided to divorce and wants to control the process. In every divorce, the parties must:
- Restructure the family unit – Parties must reach agreements on issues such as living arrangements for the children, child care, parenting, parent access, and education
- Address financial issues – Both spouses must plan their financial futures and decide how their children will be supported, whether either spouse needs support (alimony), how property such as homes, bank accounts, pensions, retirement accounts, and investments will be divided.
- Follow state law and court procedures – The State of New Jersey has enacted laws and the courts have rendered decisions and issued procedures that set out the rights of the various parties involved in a divorce.
The mediator, through training and specialized knowledge, facilitates the parties in addressing all of these matters. Where appropriate, the mediator may recommend that the parties also use the services of experts in addressing specific issues.
Mediation may also be used in family matters such as pre-nuptial agreements, grandparent issues, domestic partnerships, and post-divorce disputes.
If I use a mediator, do I also need an attorney?
In most mediated settlements, it is in each party’s interest to seek independent legal counsel. The role of the attorney will be generally limited to providing legal advice, reviewing the agreements of the parties, and preparing any documents to be filed with a court.
If I need an attorney anyway, why shouldn’t I get an attorney for a mediator?
While many of NJAPM’s accredited mediators are attorneys, many are not. The role of the mediator and an attorney are very different. The mediator functions as a neutral that facilitates an agreement between the parties. By law in New Jersey, an attorney may represent only one party to a dispute.
The training to become an attorney and a mediator are very different. Mediators are professionals trained to act as neutrals and help the parties reach agreements themselves. In selecting a mediator it is important that the mediator have the necessary training and experience in mediation.
How long does mediation take?
The time varies widely by the type of matter being mediated and other factors. A divorce mediation could take from eight to fifteen or more hours depending on the commitment of the divorcing couple to the process and the complexity of the parenting and financial issues.
There is a lot of anger between me and my spouse. Can mediation still be successful?
Yes. Mediators are trained to focus the parties on solutions for the future rather than past events. As long as the parties put aside their anger during mediation sessions and agree that a solution that they reach voluntarily is better than an adversarial process where a third party will decide, then mediation can be successful.