When contemplating divorce, you face many choices and decisions, but there are also many tools to settle those divorce issues. When thinking about your upcoming divorce, you may conjure images of a courtroom, gavel, lawyers representing the two sides and litigation. To be clear, litigation in a New Jersey family courtroom does settle divorce issues, but it is not the only option.
Alternative dispute resolution tools
There are litigation alternatives known as alternative dispute resolution tools, which can help you settle property division, child custody, child support, alimony and other divorce issues. For example, mediation is one such ADR tool that many Nutley, New Jersey, families choose.
A judge finalizes dissolution, but mediation gives you power
Only a New Jersey family court judge can formally dissolve your marriage in our state. In other words, only a judge can grant you a divorce. However, before that dissolution, through mediation, you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse can decide how to divide marital assets, like the family home (and, any other real estate), determine spousal support, child custody and child support.
These are deeply personal matters. A mediator can act as a neutral (and independent) third party to meet with both spouses. They can help determine each spouse’s unique goals and bridge them into a mutually agreeable divorce agreement. This gives the couple the power to decide how they will divorce, not a randomly assigned family court judge.
Advantages and disadvantages
There are advantages and disadvantages to mediation. Other than empowering the couple to decide their own fate, the primary benefit is the cost savings from avoiding litigation (lower court fees and greatly reduced attorney costs). However, it is a less-contentious process, which can ease familial tensions that cause strife, especially for the children of divorcing parents.
On the other hand, mediation is not for everyone. If the divorce was spurred by some perceived wrongdoing on the part of one spouse, or protracted negative interactions, the divorce will likely not be amicable. In these cases, mediation would probably not work and would be a waste of time and money.
If you are considering divorce or have already finished the process, mediation may be helpful to you before finalizing your divorce, or post-finalizing your divorce. Both mediators and attorneys are helpful assets in any stage or process of a divorce. However, mediation is just one ADR tool in your divorce lawyer’s tool belt.