Divorce mediation and domestic violence

On Behalf of | Jun 19, 2024 | Divorce Mediation

Although you might associate divorce with a lengthy, contentious courtroom battle, many New Jersey divorces are resolved using an alternative dispute resolution method such as mediation.

When you file for divorce in New Jersey, your case is reviewed by an early settlement panel. The panel recommends a resolution regarding property division and financial matters.

However, if you do not agree with the recommendation, you might be ordered to participate in economic mediation. This is a chance to resolve the financial issues with the help of a mediator.

There are many benefits to mediation, but sometimes it is not the best option. If your marriage involved domestic abuse, mediation could do more harm than good.

Being face-to-face with your abuser can cause you to agree to a resolution that is not in your best interest out of fear, anxiety or intimidation. In fact, New Jersey law typically forbids mediation if one spouse has an active restraining order against the other.

You are not required to mediate

If you have a restraining order against your spouse, you can attend economic mediation if you choose. However, you cannot be ordered to attend.

The court places restrictions on economic mediation when there is an active and final restraining order on file. You and your spouse will be in separate rooms or on a videoconference for the mediation.

When you are in separate rooms, the mediator goes back and forth between rooms to speak with you and your spouse. During virtual mediation, you and your spouse remain in separate virtual rooms.

Additionally, the mediator must be trained in mediation involving domestic violence. As a domestic violence victim, you can choose to end the mediation at any time. This is an important right that should be exercised if you feel the need.

How to end the mediation

You may believe that you are ready to mediate against your abusive spouse with these safeguards in place but discover otherwise once the mediation starts. Telling the mediator you no longer wish to participate and want to end the mediation might be the best option.

Always be respectful and professional to the mediator, remembering that they are not responsible for your spouse’s behavior. The mediator should do the same and respect your wishes to end the mediation.

Do not let the mediator bully or pressure you into continuing the mediation, even if you are close to a resolution.

Finally, in an economic mediation involving a restraining order, the mediator is legally prohibited from discussing any non-financial issues. These include topics such as custody.

As a victim of domestic violence, safety should be a priority. Your safety and mental well-being should never be put at risk because you are attempting to reach a divorce settlement.

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