Frequently Asked Questions - Divorce Mediation NJ

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What is Mediation?

Mediation is an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) process whereby a trained and skilled third party mediator facilitates confidential communication, reconciliation and negotiation between the parties to reach a voluntary and mutually agreeable resolution.Mediation focuses on a 'win-win' resolution that benefits both parties.  The mediator facilitates and makes sure each party is heard. Whatever is agreed upon is mutual and neither party is forced to agree anything which they do not want. 

How is mediation different from legal litigation?

Litigation is an adversarial approach where each of the parties have their case represented by their respective attorneys before a judge who will rule on the outcome. Mediation is based on the principle that people are capable of reaching a mutual agreement through the support of a third party mediator.  Mediation is voluntary and non-adversarial and occurs in a safe, neutral, confidential setting. the mediator is neutral, impartial and non-judgmental and has the role of helping the parties arrive at the best solution for their needs.  The mediator does not represent either party or take sides. 

Is Mediation possible after a divorce is already filed?

Yes, a mediator can help at any stage of the divorce proceedings.  Mediation will help you save the emotional and financial toll incurred by a litigated divorce, but it is never too late to seek mediation for help reaching a practical settlement.  In fact, even after people have spent thousands of dollars on lawyers, I have been able to help them resolve the issues that their lawyers were dragging out at great cost.  Most courts also advise mediation prior to litigation.

What are the benefits of Mediation?

Benefits include:

  • Significantly lower costs - Clients save thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars compared to litigation
  • High success rate - Beyond Win-Win boasts a success rate of 90% or more
  • Privacy and confidentiality - Mediation is not part of the public record
  • Parties control the outcome - You won't have a judge making a decision that does not suit you, but rather control the resolution yourselves with the help of the mediator.  
  • Speed - Settlements reached through mediation are quick whereas legal proceedings can be dragged out for years
  • Preserving amicable ongoing relationships - Mediation helps couples to maintain an amicable relationship.  In fact Beyond Win-Win mediation often leads to reconciliations.

What does a divorce mediator do?

The mediator will:

  • Create a comfortable environment for communication, and encourage participation from both parties
  • Facilitate communication and encourage active participation
  • Help each party to feel heard, respected and acknowledged
  • Manage emotions and keep egos under control
  • Point out issues and make impartial suggestions to keep the conversation flowing
  • Help you think through the options and encourage out the box solutions 
  • Control the use of language to facilitate active listening 
  • Offer new perspectives based on the mediators experience and knowledge
  • Help brainstorm how agreements can be implemented in a practical way
  • Draft the memorandum of Understanding to record the outcome of the mediation session

How long does Beyond Win-Win Divorce Mediation take?

At Beyond Win-Win, most divorce mediations are completed in half a day (3-4 hours), however the time various according to individual circumstances and the complexity of issues and property distribution.  This may surprise you as most mediators have multiple sessions over an extended period.  I find that getting the issues behind you is helpful and stops the extended pain and harm that can occur in between sessions.  One long session also saves on travel time and costs of repeating what happened last time.  If you have to make arrangements for chil-care then you will really appreciate having to do it less often.

Can my attorney represent me in Mediation?

Unlike litigation, you do not have an attorney represent you at mediation.  However occasionally if both parties desire it, both parties may be accompanied by their attorneys.  At Beyond Win-Win I do not encourage this as it tends to inhibit the open sharing of information and feelings.  Your attorney should be engaged to review the Memorandum of Understanding which is prepared by the mediator to record the outcome / agreements made during the mediation.

Is Mediation legally binding?

Once both parties agree upon a mutual resolution of all issues including property, financial, custody, parenting and more, the mediator will record the agreement in a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). The MoU should not be signed by the parties until they are absolutely sure that the terms are what they want.  I recommend your own attorney or a joint review attorney help you understand all the legal ramifications of the terms before you sign it into an Agreement and that becomes legally binding.  The Agreement should be notarized once you are certain the terms are what you are looking for.  Once signed you may file the Agreement with the county clerk or take it to Court on the day of the divorce.  The Agreement becomes an official record in the divorce proceedings.