Heymann & Fletcher

Mediation can help resolve divorce legal issues

For those in New Jersey who are considering bringing their marriage to a close, the cost associated with that process is usually an area of concern. It can be hard to get a firm estimate of how much it will cost to resolve divorce legal issues, and that uncertainty is a big concern for many spouses. After all, it is difficult to plan for the future when it is unclear what one's financial standing might be in the years to follow a divorce. Fortunately, there are options that spouses can choose to lower their overall divorce expenses, including mediation.

Mediation is the process through which spouses work together to reach an agreement on the details of their divorce, outside of a court of law. This approach allows both parties to retain their own legal counsel, but the role of those attorneys is different than it would be in a traditionally litigated divorce. During mediation, attorneys are present to advise their clients on legal matters, and to guide the dispute resolution process forward. They are not there to create or engage in a combative approach.

In mediation, spouses are expected to do much of the "legwork" of a divorce on their own. Those tasks may include gathering documentation of all financial matters, creating an outline of their desired child custody structure, or making a list of personal property that they would like to retain after the divorce. Then, parties are brought together before an impartial mediator to work through these matters, focusing initially on areas of agreement.

Mediation can significantly reduce the cost of a divorce. Working in a collaborative manner allows couples to avoid expenses on legal issues on which they are already in agreement. Of course, mediation is not an approach that will work for all New Jersey couples, but it is certainly one that should be considered prior to initiating a divorce.

Source: tnledger.com, "The many costs of divorce", Linda Bryant, March 3, 2017

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