Divorces in New Jersey that proceed to the courthouse are often overly-adversarial and conflicts may escalate. Divorce mediation, on the other hand, may bring the spouses into a collaborative process that allows them to settle divorce issues that are the most meaningful to them on their own terms.
The mediation process may reduce conflict and provide opportunities to improve trust and relationships among the parties. The process involves a mediator who is a neutral party and who tries to reduce conflicts, improve the spouses’ relationship, focus on their problems and encourages them to carry on a candid and smooth negotiation.
Litigation, by comparison, is generally considered a competition. Spouses are usually more combative in court and may not trust the other party. Court litigation can also compound communication problems, emotional stress and distrust.
Unlike mediation, where an unbiased mediator assists the spouses with reaching an agreement, a judge decides who prevails or loses and may impose a decree without a spouse’s agreement in a court case. The judge may resolve the case without consideration of the parties’ wishes. Mediation is usually quicker and less expensive than going through litigation or arbitration. The spouses have more control over the final decree by playing a role in its negotiation.
Litigation, however, may be needed in some cases. A judge or arbitrator’s knowledge and experience is sometimes necessary when the parties dispute the law governing their divorce. If mediation is unsuccessful, the case will still have to proceed to court.
Attempting mediation first, however, provides an opportunity for spouses to understand their case and important issues. Nonetheless, several studies showed that mediation is more likely to encourage an acceptable result than participating in an adversarial court proceeding.
A family law attorney experienced with mediation can represent clients in these proceedings and help develop proposed resolutions to disputed issues. A lawyer may assist a spouse with complying with its procedural rules and assure their interests are guarded.
Source: Huffington Post, “Trying to Help People Help Themselves,” Mark Baer, Aug. 4, 2017