When divorcing couples in New Jersey and around the country discuss thorny matters like spousal support and property division, they are not always able to reach an agreement at the negotiating table. Taking divorce cases to court is always an option when an amicable settlement is elusive, but this involves paying litigation costs, airing grievances in public and leaving matters up to a judge to decide. Fortunately, there are options available for those who would prefer a more discrete and inexpensive alternative to court.
Mediation is a less adversarial approach to divorce negotiations that is designed to avoid conflict and find common ground. Instead of making decisions and issuing rulings like a judge, mediators use their experience and impartiality to guide divorcing spouses toward an amicable agreement. If an agreement is reached during divorce mediation, the mediator will draw up a memorandum of understanding that can form the basis of a divorce settlement. If you get a divorce in New Jersey and decide to go to take your case to court, the judge will probably order you and your spouse to attend mediation sessions.
Divorce arbitration is basically a less formal court case that is heard behind closed doors. Each party can introduce evidence and call witnesses, and the decision of the arbitrator is final. However, the arbitrator’s decision does not become legally binding until a family law judge has reviewed and approved it. Divorcing couples usually choose this alternative to court when mediation sessions have been unproductive and they want to avoid the public spectacle of a court battle.
Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements
When traditional negotiations fail to produce an agreement, divorce mediation and arbitration give divorcing spouses a chance to resolve issues like property division and spousal support without going to court. Spouses who handle these matters proactively by drafting prenuptial or postnuptial agreements may avoid negotiations, mediation, arbitration and court. These agreements could also prevent a divorce. When both parties know where they stand, they are not subject to the anxiety and fear that can undermine even a strong marriage.