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Divorce mediation: An alternative solution for New Jersey couples

Every divorce is fundamentally a lawsuit: In order to end a marriage, one spouse must sue the other and hire an attorney to represent his or her interests. Their legal representatives can then begin fighting on their behalf, quickly marginalizing both. This adversarial system is inherently time-consuming and can be prohibitively expensive. According to CNBC, couples in New Jersey and elsewhere are increasingly reaching out to mediation as an alternative means to achieve legal separation or divorce. Why is mediation such a viable substitute?

The cost-effectiveness of mediation

Litigation requires a lot of work from divorce attorneys: They are tasked with converting assertions, hearsay and marital anguish into a persuasive statement of facts that is used to craft an effective legal argument. Even assuming a judge does not make every decision in the divorce process, an out of court settlement can require months of intensive research and writing, and billable hours add up quickly. In mediation proceedings, both parties meet with a neutral third to discuss their differences amicably, systematically and efficiently. Costs are paid up front, and total hours can be agreed upon in advance to control expenses.

Mediation is more amicable

It would be hyperbolic to say divorce litigation doesn't care about children's feelings, but in many instances, mediation is by far a healthier alternative for the couple's children. By witnessing amicable conflict resolution, children are provided with positive role models instead of virulent domestic shouting matches. In addition, the mediation process nourishes both parties' need for understanding and respect: While their differences as loving partners may not be reconcilable, their long-term relationship as parents just might be.

Mediation affords flexibility and confidentiality

In most divorces, the judge decides how to divide property and arrange for one spouse's financial support of the other. Needless to say, both parties seldom benefit equally. Divorce litigation has a habit of devolving into all-out warfare with destructive consequences for both sides. Unlike mediation, there is no confidentiality; a couple's most humiliating grievances can be publicized. In the aftermath, both former spouses can be left financially devastated and emotionally exhausted. An experienced mediator is trained to encourage cordiality and prevent one party from dominating the other during the proceedings.

Mediation offers both couples the opportunity to protect their dignity, financial stability and children's sentiments. Research conducted by Conflict Resolution Quarterly, a scholarly journal specializing in the study of conflict management in professional settings, has shown that couples who mediate their disputes generally leave more satisfied than those opting for courtroom litigation. In short, if a couple has decided upon divorce, it wouldn't be a bad idea to consult a skilled family law attorney who is a certified mediator before diving headfirst into a legal battle.