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Is Mediation Required for a New Jersey Divorce?

February 15, 2021 | Posted In Family Law

When going through the divorce process in New Jersey, mediation can be an effective tool for resolving differences out of court. Mediation allows divorcing spouses to keep complete control over the outcome of their divorce while getting help from a neutral third party. But, how do you pursue mediation? Is mediation required? What happens if mediation is unsuccessful? Here’s what you need to know:

Divorcing Spouses Can Voluntarily Seek Mediation at Any Time

In New Jersey, divorcing spouses can voluntarily choose mediation at any time. If you and your spouse agree that it makes sense to mediate, then you can simply select a mediator and move forward. Working with your respective attorneys, you and your spouse will present information to the mediator, consider the mediator’s insights and recommendations, and work toward finalizing the terms of your divorce.  

Divorcing spouses can use mediation to solve any or all of the issues involved in bringing their marriage to an end. For example, in many cases, parents will be able to come to terms about property division and financial support but will need help developing a mutually-agreeable parenting plan. By using mediation only as necessary, divorcing spouses can keep their costs down while still arriving at an amicable resolution.

Without a Court Order, Either Spouse Can Refuse to Take Part in Mediation

Unless a judge orders you and your spouse to try mediation (more on this below), participation is entirely voluntary. Either spouse can refuse to participate, and either spouse can end divorce mediation at any time.

As a practical matter, however, if one spouse is unwilling to even consider mediation, then the likelihood of the process being successful is pretty low. On the other hand, if both spouses are willing to commit to mediate in good faith, then there is a strong chance that they will resolve their remaining differences through the mediation process.

The Judge May Order You and Your Spouse to Try Mediation Before Going to Court

If you and your spouse are unable to reach an agreement on the terms of your divorce, then at some point, you may need to ask a judge to make decisions for you. However, before doing so, the judge may require you and your spouse to try mediation. If a judge orders you and your spouse to try mediation, you must both participate in good faith; and, if you are unable to come to terms, you will need to show the judge that you tried your best to come to terms.

If Mediation is Unsuccessful, All Other Options Remain on the Table

If you and your spouse try to mediate unsuccessfully, all other options will stay on the table. You can keep trying to negotiate, and you can take your divorce to court if necessary. However, before giving up on mediation, you will want to make sure you do everything you can to make the process successful. This includes relying on the advice and representation of an experienced New Jersey divorce attorney.

Speak with a New Jersey Divorce Attorney in Confidence

If you have more questions about divorce mediation, we encourage you to get in touch. To schedule an appointment with an experienced divorce lawyer, please call 877-435-6371 or request an appointment online today.

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Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A.

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