Divorce through mediation is becoming an increasingly used method of divorce, particularly in Somerset and Hunterdon Counties. The advantages for mediation are many: the parties control the process and the results; mediation reduces the cost of divorce; mediation is a cooperative process, unlike litigation, which is a contentious and often acrimonious process.
The parties pick the mediator, who may or may not be a lawyer. The mediator does not dictate the outcome of the matter, unlike a judge or arbitrator. In short, the mediator is not the decision maker - you are. The goals of the mediator are to facilitate discussion between the parties, help the parties define their interests and goals, identify possible options, and reach an agreement acceptable to both sides.
If you reach agreement, the mediator will incorporate the terms into what is commonly known as a memorandum of understanding. This document is not binding. Your next step should be to review the terms of the memorandum with an attorney. The attorneys will incorporate the terms into a formal final agreement and obtain a final divorce. The attorneys may negotiate issues not addressed in the mediation, as a final agreement usually includes "boilerplate" items not covered in the mediation.
Perhaps the most important advantage to mediation is that your agreement is yours, and not one dictated to you by your lawyers or the court. If you "own" the agreement, you are much more likely to accept and abide it. Your agreement will be more durable and you are more likely to avoid future litigation.
Not all cases are appropriate for mediation. For example, one party may try to dominate the proceedings, withhold necessary information, or where there is considerable animosity between the parties.
However, if you think your matter is suited for mediation, I can assist you. I am a Court qualified Rule 1:40 family law mediator. I can provide you and your spouse mediation services. I also can provide review of any agreement reached in mediation. Please feel free to contact me in either regard.