Mediating Post-Judgement Issues
Mediation is a process for handling conflict in which both parties voluntarily meet with a trained, impartial mediator to resolve their dispute. Mediation can be used to reach a divorce settlement, but the process is also effective for resolving post-divorce and post-judgement issues, including those related to child custody, child support, spousal support and other matters where modifications of the original agreement are desired.
What Happens During Post-Divorce Mediation?
If you and your spouse are able to communicate with each other, and are committed to trying to find a peaceful way to solve your dispute, then you should consider mediation, even if your original settlement was not reached through mediation. In mediation, you and your spouse will work with a skilled, experienced and caring mediator who will help you, individually and collectively, identify the issues involved and work towards a resolution. The number of mediation sessions depends on a few factors, including but not limited to the complexity of the issues and the ability for you and your spouse to work together and achieve a mutually-agreeable resolution.
The post-judgement mediation process typically involves the following steps:
Attend Mediation Sessions: Typical sessions involve informal but structured discussions guided by the mediator. Both parties are given the opportunity to speak without interruption, describing their view of the issues up for possible modification. The mediator structures the discussions to help clarify the issues and move toward an agreement.
Develop a Revised Order Draft: If and, hopefully, when you and your spouse are able to reach a resolution, your mediator will outline the changes for you in a memo.
Submit Memo for Legal Review: Both parties may submit the draft memo to their respective legal and financial counsel for review. Your New Jersey family lawyer will check to make sure the revised order in your best interest (or the best interest of your children in any child-related matter), and legally enforceable.
Finalize and File Modification Order: Once the memo is approved, the final order is prepared and all associated legal documents are prepared and filed by the divorce mediator. Ultimately, the order will be submitted to the Courts for review and approval which is typically forthcoming if all parties and their family lawyers agree that it is a practical, responsible and appropriate change.
Retaining a Family Law Attorney for Post-Divorce Mediation
Even if you and your spouse decide to go to private mediation, we recommend working with a family law attorney from the outset of your dispute. You do not want to end up in a situation where, after weeks or months of mediation and negotiating with your spouse, you present the memo to your family lawyer, who then tells you it is not in your best interest or legally enforceable. If that happens, you will have to start from step one, and that will mean more expense, time, and stress for you and your family.
However, when you retain the services of an experienced New Jersey family lawyer at the onset of the mediation process, you are giving yourself access to the ongoing advice and guidance you need. Remember that a mediator in New Jersey cannot provide legal advice and counsel. Only a New Jersey family lawyer that you retain can do that. It is in your best interest to choose a family lawyer who also has a background in mediation, so that there is no knowledge gap between what your mediator is doing, and what your family lawyer is advising.