What is the Early Settlement Panel?
What is the Early Settlement Panel?
For those going through a divorce in New Jersey, the Early Settlement Panel or “ESP” is a mandatory part of many divorce proceedings. The purpose of the Early Settlement Panel is to provide spouses an opportunity to settle many of the disputes of their divorce including division of assets, alimony, child support, and more going further in the legal process. It is important to understand what the Early Settlement Panel is, what issues are eligible for consideration in the early settlement process, and how the ESP may impact your divorce.
The divorce and family law attorneys of Jacobs Berger have extensive experience representing clients from Morris County towns including Madison, Morristown, Randolph, Denville, Dover, Rockaway, East Hanover, and all of Northern New Jersey throughout the divorce process. Our firm believes that the Early Settlement Panel is a great tool offered by the state to give divorcing couples the opportunity to avoid unnecessary litigation. Our attorneys work hard to use all available resources to mitigate the financial and emotional stressors of divorce, all while saving our clients’ time and money.
Call our office today to learn more about the divorce Early Settlement Panel in a strategic planning session with one of our qualified and experienced attorneys.
Divorce Trial Attorneys Define Early Settlement Panel (ESP)
Many divorce proceedings require the help of the court system to resolve legal disputes. The state of New Jersey therefore implemented the Early Settlement Panel for NJ residents going through divorce in order to offer an alternative dispute resolution method. The intent of the ESP is to allow both parties to resolve their divorce issues quickly, efficiently, and equitably.
Panelists in the Early Settlement Process include practicing Randolph divorce trial attorneys. These divorce attorneys volunteer their time to provide a low cost service for divorcing couples. Most panels consist of two (2) attorneys, but in some counties with a particularly busy schedule, a single divorce attorney may hear your case. The ESP is a mandatory step before any NJ divorce is brought to trial.
What Disputes Can be Resolved via the Early Settlement Panel?
Early Settlement Panels are not able to resolve all divorce disputes, but generally are limited to the financial aspects of divorce. Our Morris County attorneys may be able to help clients resolve all of the following during an Early Settlement Panel hearing:
- Equitable Distribution of Marital Assets – during a divorce settlement, all marital property must be divided between spouses. Theses issues may be addressed and resolved during an ESP hearing
- Child Support – similarly, issues of child support can be resolved. Despite child support being for the best interests of the child, it is considered a financial matter, and therefore eligible for consideration in an ESP
- Alimony – Early Settlement Panels also address issues of alimony and spousal support
Your Early Settlement Panel hearing may not address the following:
- Child Custody and Visitation – any disputes regarding child custody, parenting time, relocating with children, etc. are not eligible for consideration during an Early Settlement Panel
Divorce Settlement Lawyers Discuss Accepting or Rejecting Recommendation of the ESP
Our Denville divorce settlement lawyers inform our clients that the recommendations of the Early Settlement Panel are just that: recommendations. The ESP process is non-binding, and non-final if both spouses do not agree to the terms. That being said, the recommendations giving by the ESP member(s) will likely be very similar to a judge’s orders if you should choose to move forward with a formal trial.
If you accept the Early Settlement Panel recommendation: your divorce will be formally considered on the record, meaning that both you and your spouse understand that by agreeing to the recommendations of the ESP, you are bound to the terms discussed and agreed upon during the hearing. The results of your Early Settlement Panel will go before a judge, who will most likely finalize your divorce that same day.
If you reject the Early Settlement Panel recommendation: your divorce will be heard by a New Jersey judge in a formal divorce trial. It is important to understand that divorce trials are time consuming and potentially costly affairs, with results often mirroring the recommendations of an ESP. While the option is always open, most clients choose to go the route of accepting the recommendations of the Early Settlement Panel.
Contact our Early Settlement Panel Divorce Attorneys Today
At Jacobs Berger, our Early Settlement Panel divorce attorneys take pride in serving clients from local Morris County communities like Morristown, Denville, Randolph, Madison, East Hanover, Florham Park, Rockaway, Tewksbury, Dover, and across all of Northern New Jersey. Our firm differs from many other family law attorneys who live for arguments and escalated tempers. Instead, our lawyers strive to minimize the stress of divorce while offering alternatives to litigation including mediation. If you are looking for a law firm who will take the time to understand your unique needs and concerns before offering legal advice, look no further.
To learn more about the Early Settlement Process and how it may come into play during your divorce proceedings, please contact us online or through our Morristown, NJ offices by calling (973) 354-4551 today for a strategic planning session.