Are you thinking of giving mediation a try, but you find yourself still wondering about the details? Perhaps you have read lots of information about how mediation can reduce conflict and costs in divorce, but you are still not quite sure what the experience will be like. What exactly goes on in a New Jersey private divorce mediation session?
To a certain extent, mediators have individual styles when it comes to conducting sessions. Mediators also seek feedback from participants regarding how they are most comfortable proceeding. Nevertheless, most divorce mediations follow the same general format.
After you and your spouse chose a mediator, the mediator will schedule an introductory session to review the entire mediation process with you, discuss the “ground rules,” inform you of all the fees that will be involved, and develop a tentative schedule for participation. Ground rules generally cover requirements for respectful communication, such as maintaining civility while speaking and listening respectfully to the other party without interrupting, providing information in a timely manner, and refraining from filing any papers in court without first informing the other spouse and the mediator. If the parties are satisfied with all of the details of the process, the mediator and both spouses sign a mediation agreement.
Over the next one or more sessions, the mediator will ask each of you to address your issues one at a time. The two of you may have different “stories” about how things are and what kind of resolutions would be acceptable to you. The mediator will guide each of you in presenting your side of things, inform you of the applicable law, and let you know what paperwork you need to bring to the sessions to help you verify the relevant facts. If it appears that one or more experts may be necessary to resolve a difference of opinion, the mediator will help you identify what type of expert you need and help you agree on a method of choosing the expert.
Once the facts and law are clear, the mediator will help you come up with different possibilities for resolving each issue. One way to do this is by having a “brainstorming” session, where each of you comes up with as many ideas as you can think of. Throwing out lots of possibilities—even possibilities that might seem a little crazy—can really get your wheels turning. Often you will come up with a solution together that neither of you would have been able to think of on your own.
As you resolve each issue, the mediator will help you keep track of your progress. Many mediators send out a memo after each session reviewing the issues covered and any agreements reached. The entire process takes, on average, about four two-hour sessions spaced out over several weeks. Some divorcing couples, particularly those who do not have minor children or own businesses, can resolve everything in just a couple of sessions. Couples who own businesses or other substantial assets, or who have children and are having difficulty agreeing on a parenting plan, might need more sessions.
After you have reached agreement on all issues, the mediator will most likely prepare a “Memorandum of Understanding” for you to take to your attorneys for review and finalization into a “Marital Settlement Agreement” (MSA). You will then file the MSA in court along with the other paperwork necessary to finalize your uncontested divorce.
Not only does private divorce mediation usually save both time and money, the process is flexible and creative, providing the opportunity to reach solutions through this alternate method that would not be possible in a court process.
If you feel mediation services can work for your situation or you would like more information, contact us! … For an initial FREE consultation, use our divorce mediation contact form or call (888) 888 1383.