Protecting Your Rights in a Divorce Mediation
When you are involved in a marital dissolution in New Jersey, there are a number of different ways your differences can be resolved. You can take your disputes to court, asking a judge and/or jury to make decisions about child custody and visitation, child support, alimony and the division of marital debts and assets. Litigation can be expensive, though, and can be an extremely time-consuming process. You could seek to negotiate solutions to your disagreements, but that can be difficult as well, as you may feel that you have less bargaining power, or can be intimidated by your ex-spouse. An alternative that works for many people in New Jersey is divorce mediation. This blog post helps you identify ways to protect your interests in divorce mediation.
What Is Divorce Mediation?
In New Jersey, divorce mediation is a process whereby a third party, who represents neither spouse, acts as a facilitator, helping the parties identify and implement solutions that work for both of them. The mediator is typically someone with specialized knowledge about family law matters, who can make constructive suggestions to the parties regarding ways to settle their disputes. Parties can voluntarily agree to take their differences to mediation, or mediation can be ordered by the court.
How to Get the Best Results in Mediation
Mediation is designed to be a “win-win” process. It is not set up to determine who is right and who is wrong. Accordingly, going into the process with an open mind and a willingness to consider alternatives will likely enhance the chances that you will find a mutually beneficial solution.
The first thing to understand is that you don’t have to convince the mediator of anything. The mediator does not consider legal arguments, does not take testimony, and does not render any decisions. The person with whom you will have to work, and who you will need to help understand your position, is your ex-spouse. If you go in making demands, but not expressing any willingness to compromise, you will likely have little success.
It is also important to understand that, while a judge may compel you to take your differences to mediation, you are not required to resolve your disputes in mediation. You should never agree to something you don’t want simply because you believe that you have to settle your differences. All offers made in mediation are just that—offers to settle. You can always reject an offer. You can also walk away from mediation if you are feeling browbeaten or intimidated.
You will also have the best chance of resolving your controversies in mediation if you prepare in advance. Make a list of those things you must have, as well as those items that are negotiable. If something is non-negotiable, make certain you understand why.
Finally, remember that mediation about issues such as child custody, visitation and child support all affect your minor children. Be clear that what you are seeking is in their best interests, and always defer to this standard when evaluating offers from your ex-spouse.