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Making the Most of Economic Mediation in a Divorce Case

Economic mediation can be an important step in resolving financial disputes in New Jersey divorce cases. This is a method of resolving disagreements with the assistance of a trained, impartial third party in an informal and non-adversarial setting.

Mediation will be ordered by the family court if the spouses do not accept the recommendations of the Early Settlement Panel (ESP) that reviews the divorce case. A judicially-approved mediator is appointed. The spouses may choose their own mediator from a list of authorized professionals with backgrounds in law, finance or mental health, who have expertise in addressing the complex financial aspects of divorce. Alternatively, the court will select one.

There are several potential benefits of using economic mediation in divorce cases:

  1. Confidential proceedings — The mediation process is confidential, providing a private environment for the parties to discuss and negotiate financial matters.
  2. Mutually acceptable agreements — Mediation allows the divorcing parties to actively participate in creating their own agreement. This can result in a more personalized and mutually acceptable resolution.
  3. Active role in resolution — Parties are encouraged to take an active role in resolving their financial disputes, which fosters a sense of control over the outcome of their divorce.
  4. Time and cost savings — By avoiding court battles, economic mediation can save both parties time and money. It is often a more efficient way to reach a resolution.

Mediators do not represent either party and do not provide legal advice. The spouses usually retain their own mediation attorneys to guide them through the process. If they choose to go unrepresented, they can have someone else to accompany them during mediation.

A mediator holds one or more sessions with the spouses and their attorneys to get full picture of their financial situations, including income sources, assets, debts and expenses. Mediation sessions can be held in person or in online chat rooms. Special rules apply when either party is subject to a domestic violence restraining order. The mediator will meet with the spouses individually to avoid confrontations.

The ideal result of mediation is a memorandum of understanding that describes how the marital property will be distributed and that sets the terms of any spousal support payments. This memorandum can later be adopted into a divorce settlement.

Mediation results are not binding on either party, even if a memorandum is signed. The spouses are free to continue with negotiations or to go to trial. However, mediations usually work to bridge major areas of disagreement.

Somerset divorce lawyer Kisha M. Hebbon is a trained mediator with experience settling divorce and family law matters in New Jersey. She also represents spouses at mediations in which she does not preside. To discuss your case, call 732-873-6464 or submit an online inquiry.

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