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PREPARING FOR DIVORCE MEDIATION

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Once you have found the appropriate divorce mediator NJ for your case, the next step is to make sure you are prepared to begin sessions. It is likely that time and energy has gone into choosing an effective mediator who you and your spouse are comfortable with and expect to be prepared and attentive. Spending your own time preparing for divorce mediation is equally as necessary for success.

KNOW THE PROCESS 

To begin preparing for divorce mediation start with the basics. Your divorce mediator NJ should explain how things will work during your initial consultation, but if you still feel uneasy spend some time researching what to expect. You should familiarize yourself with the process, including the stages of mediation, confidentiality, the role the mediator will play, and the role you and your spouse will play.

Even if your mediator has satisfied all of your concerns and offered thorough explanations, doing your own research is always beneficial and will calm your nerves when it is time for the first session. There are many resources available on the internet such as mediate.com, divorce mediation blogs and articles. If you are unsure of the authenticity of the information you are reading don’t hesitate to run it by your divorce mediator NJ. 

GET ORGANIZED 

divorce mediationMaking a list of the issues, topics, and goals you have for mediation can mean less stress, better outcomes, and less time and money. Import this list to a spreadsheet and gather relevant information regarding all of the issues on the list. This may include bank and credit card statements, insurance information, recurring bills and documentation regarding children such as current schedules, extracurricular activities and their costs, current or future college expenses, and notes on future plans. This should even be done for issues that are more relevant to the other party.

Once all of your concerns are well organized, develop a range of acceptable outcomes for your agreement. Continue preparing for divorce mediation by making notes of your thoughts, ideas and concerns as they come to you; carry a small notepad with you or use your phone to make sure you don’t miss anything. 

GET OUTSIDE ADVICE  

If your case is complex, you have doubts about the other party’s intentions or you simply want reassurance, it is a good idea to seek the advice of an independent attorney. The attorney will offer you an outside perspective and other ideas you may not have previously considered. Unlike the divorce mediator NJ, this attorney will have only your best interest in mind and will make sure you are confident and ready for mediation and ensure that the final agreement is fair to you. Go over the acceptable outcomes you have previously drafted with your attorney to make sure they are all appropriate and realistic. 

divorce mediation

Seeking advice from other outside professionals and parties will also help you prepare for mediation. For instance, an accountant or appraiser can help you have a firm grasp of your assets and financial situation, while family and friends can help you keep realistic expectations. Reaching out to family or friends who may have used mediation in the past is great way of preparing for divorce mediation. 

PREPARE MENTALLY AND PHYSICALLY 

Having energy and peace of mind will translate to a productive mediation session. Take simple steps like getting a full night’s sleep, eating well and taking a break from stressful tasks. Try to rearrange your schedule as much as possible on the day of the divorce mediation session; postponing appointments, meetings or other demanding activities will allow you to reduce stress before mediation and use the time after to reflect on the outcomes of the session. As mediation can be unpredictable, and range from one hour to several, keeping the day as open as possible will keep you focused and not rushing to attend to prior commitments.

5 TOP REASONS TO MEDIATE DIVORCE

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Divorce mediation is an increasingly popular method that allows couples to have more control over the issues in their divorce. During mediation sessions both parties, a mediation attorney, and, if necessary, third party professionals, will focus on coming to a settlement that is fair and appropriate. While mediation is not for every couple, there are some major benefits and reasons to mediate divorce that make it worth considering.

armour law firm divorce mediation

1) Flexible and Informal

The mediation process does not include the court, and instead a divorce mediator helps guide the parties through creating their own property settlement agreement, parenting plan, or any other necessary agreement. The absence of traditional divorce litigation allows mediation sessions to be flexible and informal. Sessions are scheduled at mutually convenient times allowing both parties to use their time effectively and work around one another’s obligations. Because the mediation environment is conducive to open communication and confidentiality, there is more room for creative and personalized solutions.

2) Relationships

Although divorce eliminates the marital relationship, it can be necessary for ex-spouses to keep in contact, especially when children are involved. Divorce mediation allows parties to lay the foundation for their new relationship as it focuses on developing communication, trust, problem-solving, and compromise. A divorce mediation study by Dr. Robert E. Emery found that couples who used mediation had better relationships with each other and their children than those who used litigation.

3) Stress

While stress is an inevitable part of divorce, mediation can help reduce it. Litigation is adversarial while mediation is collaborative. The thought of court involvement alone can cause additional stress for many people, so replacing it with the face-to-face contact and discussion of mediation can be highly beneficial. Having more direct involvement in sensitive issues such as parenting plans can also greatly reduce stress.

4) Cost

One of the more obvious reasons to mediate divorce mediation is its financial cost, which is generally much less than divorce litigation. Attorney and court fees can add up quickly, especially in contested divorce, but in mediation the focus is on working together, which includes collaborating to ensure modest cost. Cost can be greatly reduced by effectively using each session and shortening the length of the whole process.

5) Control

Since divorce mediation is a voluntary process it allows both parties to feel more in control of their financial and family lives. Unlike divorce litigation, mediation involves only one attorney who cannot give either party individual legal advice. Couples begin mediation with an agreement to be open and not withhold any relevant information. The intention is to solve issues without court intervention. This helps establish trust and comfort during sessions, which leads to a greater sense of control. Children may also feel more empowered knowing their parents are involved in a collaborative process and willing to compromise.

Divorce Mediation and Children

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Divorce Mediation and Children

One of the main concerns of parents going through or contemplating divorce is the affect it will have on their children. While it is commonly thought that this will be solely negative, the impact greatly depends on how the conflict is handled and how well the spouses are able to communicate as parents. Divorce mediation and children may involve custody and or child support mediation are increasingly popular alternatives to litigation because focus is put on open communication and compromise.

Mediation vs. Litigation

A study conducted by Dr. Robert E. Emerydivorce mediation andchildren – whose research focuses on family relationships and children’s mental health – found that divorce mediation had a positive impact on family relations. Couples were randomly assigned with litigation or mediation, making it clear that the outcomes were linked to the method of divorce. Mediation lasted an average of only five hours, was problem focused, and sensitive to emotions.

After 12 years only 9% of the nonresidential parents who litigated saw their children weekly compared to 28% of those who mediated. Telephone contact was also more prevalent among the nonresidential mediation group with 52% of parents speaking to their children weekly compared to 14% of those who used litigated divorce.

In addition, residential parents saw nonresidential parents more positively, giving them better “grades” in all areas of parenting from running errands to discussing problems.

Collaborative and Non-Adversarial

Being that mediation is a collaborative process both parents actively participate in developing a healthy and fair parenting plan. Working together closely during mediation sessions allows parents to come to a mutual agreement on each specific issue. This can include weekly schedules as well as schedules for holidays, birthdays, vacations, and other special occasions.

Mediation helps avoid the adversarial process that comes with litigation and the flexibility in communication makes it easier to include children in decision making. Instead of worrying about parents battling in court, children may feel more open to share their feelings knowing they will be listened to by parents who are committed to problem solving together.

Contested divorce is inevitably full of conflict and easily leads to having children feel as if they are stuck in the middle, even when both parents have the children’s best interests in mind. Mediation gives parties a chance to work through issues without major conflict and learn to separate their personal interests from their children’s interests in the process.

Creating Effective Relationships

divorce mediation and children nj

One of the most beneficial ways divorce mediation affects children is the new relationship it helps parents develop with one another. Because parenting after divorce is a whole new dynamic it requires the development of new types of relationships – with both the ex-spouse and child. Spending energy on blaming one another for the failed marriage takes away from valuable effort that can be spent on nurturing these new relationships.

Mediation is a way to set aside blame and begin learning how to work together to effectively raise children. Mediation teaches parties to communicate effectively and develop new skills to create solutions for the future; these same problem solving and compromising skills are crucial to healthy parenting and stress reduction.

5 TOP REASONS NOT TO MEDIATE DIVORCE

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What to Consider Before Opting to Mediate Divorce

While divorce mediation has significant benefits, it is not appropriate for every situation. There are numerous factors that must be considered before deciding to mediate divorce or opt for traditional litigation. It is important that you and your spouse both understand what mediation is and that neither party is being pressured into it.

mediate divorce

Waste of Time and Money

While mediation can be economical and time saving in many instances, it is not always so. If both parties are willing to cooperate with the process the outcome will likely be positive; however, if one or both spouses do not intend to be honest and open to compromise, it is likely to fail. Failed mediation means that litigated divorce is the next step. Both spouses must find their own attorneys (the mediation attorney cannot represent either party) and pay attorney and court fees associated with a new divorce proceeding. Information revealed during mediation may not be used in court, which means the discovery process must generally begin from the beginning. In addition, both parties are left with the bill from mediation and a loss of time.

Emotion

The dynamics of one failing marriage are never identical to another. Couples who plan to mediate divorce must consider their current and past personal relationship, and each spouse must consider their own emotions. While one couple may be amicable, agree to one another’s wishes completely, and have a minimal amount of negative, resentful, or sentimental emotion surrounding the divorce, another couple may find themselves too emotionally involved and angry to sit together through hours of mediation. Gauging where your relationship falls between these two ends of the spectrum will help you and your partner decide if mediation is right for you.

Power Imbalance

If one spouse is more articulate, has all the financial resources, or abusive to the other it can surely be detrimental to the divorce mediation process. For instance, in a marriage with a history of domestic violence mediation is likely not an appropriate choice as the victim may feel pressured or intimidated during sessions. Spouses who are victims, have fewer resources, or are inarticulate will usually have a more difficult time asserting themselves during mediation.

Court Procedure

The formality of the court in litigated divorce can be beneficial when it comes to power imbalances, truth, fairness, and evidence. Attorneys are able to use the court to have witnesses testify or produce evidence, while mediators cannot force the truth to be given by all parties. Court procedures also help ensure that both parties are treated fairly, whereas mediation is less able to help protect a party from an aggressive or intimidating spouse. This can play a crucial role in making sure the less aggressive spouse does not unfairly settle and lose what is rightfully theirs.

No Legal Advice

Even if a mediator is an attorney, they are not allowed to provide either side with legal advice. They are to act as a neutral party and are unable to speak to the parties about the divorce outside of mediation sessions.

Choosing to mediate divorce is a great alternative to litigation but it is not recommended in all cases.  Deciding whether to mediate or litigate may be decided early on, as early as the contemplation of divorce.  On the other hand, you may decide to mediate at any time during the litigation process. For instance, once a complaint is filed both parties could inform their attorneys that they wish to mediate.  Their attorneys could be present at the mediation sessions or they may mediate without attorneys. This option allows for the parties the benefit of being provided with legal advise during the mediation process through their individual attorneys.

Each case is significantly unique and an experienced mediator can help determine if mediation is appropriate.  At Armour Law Firm we recognize the importance of serving these diverse needs and provide mediation, collaborative divorce and  traditional litigated divorce services.

DIVORCE MEDIATION NJ

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DIVORCE MEDIATION ON THE RISE
THE MEDIATION PROCESS

Divorce mediation is an informal and flexible process.  Mediation may begin before or after a spouse has filed for divorce; the parties control when to start mediation. The mediator’s role is to guide the parties toward their own resolution after full disclosure.

Mediation often begins with joint sessions used to set the ground rules and an agenda.  The mediator helps both sides define the issues clearly.  During the process, the mediator may caucus with each spouse individually to help the parties move closer to a resolution.

Once all the issues have been addressed, the divorce mediator will draft a memorandum of understanding (MOU) covering all the issues and resolutions. The MOU is given to the attorneys representing each of the parties for their review, and one of the attorneys will then draft the settlement agreement.

If the complaint has been filed, the attorneys will request a divorce hearing.  On the date of the hearing, your divorce will be finalized.

nj divorce mediation

TOPICS COVERED BY DIVORCE MEDIATOR

Your mediator will help you work out a parenting plan, child support and in some cases spousal support.  The mediator will show you how the Child Support Guidelines apply to your situation.  The divorce mediator will help you better understand the cost of living apart based on your own current income.

This will greatly assist in determining both the amount and duration of financial support the children, and/or perhaps one of parties may need and/or be entitled. A mediator will also help you make a plan for all your future parenting decisions including; but not limited to extra-curricular activities, holiday schedule, birthdays, funding college education, emancipation, and tax deductions.

The mediator will help divide your marital assets such as the equity in the marital home, bank accounts, family business, retirement accounts including pensions and 401ks, cars, furniture, and jewlery.  The mediator will also assist in dividing up the marital debt. Some assets may require an expert evaluation.

For example, an expert should be obtained to determine the precise market value of a business or home.  Mediation is conducted so that both of  the parties can contribute equally to decisions, after full disclosure, and there should not be any winners or losers. There is no topic out of reach in mediation.  Mediation covers all the same issues attorneys negotiate in divorce litigation.

RISE OF DIVORCE MEDIATION

The rise in divorce mediation is attributable to two major factors.  First, mediation is much more cost effective than litigation.  Litigation is expensive, and the outcome in almost all cases is the same, which is settlement.   Fees are moderate and on an hourly basis.  No retainer is used in mediation as it is instead a ‘pay as you go’ system.

For example, Joe and Mary file for divorce and both have attorneys negotiating their agreement at $300.00 per hour.  After 15 hours of negotiations they have both paid each of their attorneys $4,500.00; the marital pot has been reduced by $9,000.00.

In the next scenerio, Joe and Mary file for divorce and both have attorneys, but rather than have their attorneys negotiate their agreement they instead use a mediator to reach a settlement. The mediator charges $300.00 per hour and after 15 hours of negotiating their agreement they each pay $2,250.00.

It is also highly likely that it takes less time to negotiate an agreement because both parties have made a conscious decision in a cost effective approach to reduce their overall fees and protect their naturally vested interest concerning their finances.

Additionally, significant amounts can be saved by using a mediator based on direct communications. The parties using the mediation process will actually be sitting before a mediator discussing issues and concerns.

In the alternative, the parties using their attorneys for such negotiations will have virtually all of their basic communications take place through their attorneys.  This process will likely entail each of the parties first having phone and/or other electronic communications with their respective counselors; and those concerns than being reduced to written letters that ultimately results in a costly deluge of such back and forth communications.

Nevertheless, it is recommended that both parties always retain their own divorce attorneys so that each divorce attorney can advise their client concerning the law and what is in their best interest.

A good divorce mediator will discuss the law but will not weigh in on the individuals best interest. Second, mediation gives the parties control over the outcome of their divorce.  A mutual agreement is reached in mediation by both agreeing to solutions.  Direct communication through mediation helps to limit hostility enabling and encouraging the parties to more openly discuss things productively.

Where children are involved, all mediation discussions are tempered by the fact that both parties are the parents of their children and you will have a continuing relationship as parents long after you have ended the husband and wife relationship.

Although most forms of separation negotiations are intended to take notice of the best interests of the children, these often get lost.  In mediation these remain the central and key issue. It is no wonder divorce mediation has been on the rise.  It offers a less expensive, less hostile, more open and ultimately productive means of divorce.