Morris County Mediation Attorney
Neutral mediators and experienced attorneys guiding you through a more straightforward approach to divorce
Divorce involves dealing with challenging emotions, but the process doesn’t have to be stressful and contentious.
Mediation is a widely-used alternative to a heavily litigated divorce to potentially save on time, stress, and financial cost—and it’s growing in popularity.
With the help of a trained and neutral third party, mediation allows the parties to talk through divisions of parenting time, money, and more—rather than each person fighting in court to convince a judge of their “side.”
At Jacobs Berger, LLC, our trusted and experienced attorneys serve as neutral mediators or as independent counsel during mediation, helping clients through the divorce process in a more amicable and collaborative manner.
How Does Mediation Work?
Mediation is a form of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)—and an alternate approach to traditional divorce in New Jersey. It stems from the idea that with trained, neutral guidance, couples may be able to reach an agreement on how to set up some or all of the responsibilities and obligations of their post-marriage framework.
The mediation process may produce better, more personalized results than arguing through the details before a judge. Likewise, it can make for a less stressful journey to get to those results.
During the mediation process, the couple works with a neutral third party to come to decisions about many issues, including:
At first glance, this may seem like a surprising list of issues for divorcing couples to talk through, but considering the potential alternatives including litigation in court, it’s easy to see why mediation is gaining popularity among solution-focused individuals.
Separating spouses or co-parents with custody and parenting time concerns will have to work through these issues at some point. In mediation, the spouses and parents—not a judge—have the final say.
Our Approach to Mediation
At Jacobs Berger, LLC, our Morris County lawyers are trained and qualified mediation attorneys.
What’s a mediation attorney? You might know this person as a mediator—the neutral third party who facilitates the mediation process—or as the attorney who supports you through the mediation process. Both of these roles require an attorney with mediation experience.
It’s common for divorcing parties to retain independent counsel throughout the mediation process. As experienced mediation attorneys, we can provide trusted and confidential services for someone going through the mediation process.
We do want to make one thing clear though: when serving as a mediator, it’s unethical for a mediation attorney to be anything but neutral.
For example, we can’t serve as a mediator for a client we have represented previously, but we can work with that client by providing legal advice through the process.
It’s also important to understand that the couple must decide on the mediator together. The process won’t be effective if one spouse doesn’t trust the mediator in that role.
After all, you’re choosing this alternative approach. While there may be a whole host of benefits (see below) that make it feel so obvious as to be a non-choice, it’s still ultimately a choice.
Mediation only moves forward if both parties want it to—and yes, that means coming to the negotiating table in a collaborative and solution-oriented frame of mind.
It’s also possible for a couple to work through some of the issues with mediation but still need to go before a judge for one or more sticking points.
Although many divorcing parties don’t know it’s an option before they file, the mediation process precedes filing for divorce. This gives you the chance to try working through matters collaboratively first.
Benefits of Mediation
Divorce mediation is faster and generally more amicable than litigated divorce. This brings with it a number of benefits for the divorcing parties, their savings, and any children.
No one expects divorce to be easy, but there are ways to minimize the stress involved, especially when the end result will better serve your future life satisfaction.
Mediation doesn’t magically make the stress go away. You still have to go through some tough emotions. Yet it requires a collaborative—versus combative—approach to the divorce process, so it tends to be less stressful than traditional, litigated divorce.
Since mediation doesn’t require scheduling hearings in the often busy court system, you typically can work through your issues in far less time than you would by going in front of a judge. When you’ve finished your mediation process, you can file for an uncontested divorce.
Although the cost of a divorce depends to some degree on the complexity of the matters involved—such as children, the number of debts or assets, business partnership, and more—mediated divorce can be less expensive than litigated divorce.
It’s still generally recommended to hire the legal services of a mediation attorney to serve as your counsel during the mediation process, but the number of hours the attorney needs to put in to successfully guide you will likely be far less with mediation than if they have to prepare for court hearings or trials. (Again, this all depends on the complexity of the case.)
Just as mediation is often less stressful for the parents, it also tends to be easier on children. There aren’t winning or losing sides in mediation, so parents aren’t pitted against each other.
As decades of research show, being exposed to parental conflict has a more negative impact on children than parental separation.
Divorce litigated through the court is generally a matter of public record. However, when you reach a divorce settlement through mediation, the details are private.
You’re in control
Mediation is a voluntary process where the parties who are separating make the final calls.
This allows spouses or co-parents to make adjustments for the specific details and situations in their lives.
Whether or not the Court’s decision is fair (or unfair as some parties may believe), the real issue is that there’s no way for the judge to understand the complexities of your life as well as you do, and a decision has to be made when there isn’t mutual agreement. Ultimately, you’re the most informed of the nuances of your particular situation.
With the collaboration of the other party and a mediation attorney serving as your advocate, mediation allows you to tailor a unique solution that better fits your future.
When Does Mediation Make Sense?
First and foremost, mediation only makes sense when both parties want it to work. They don’t need to work through every aspect of the divorce or legal issue, but for the matters they want to cover through mediation, they need to come to the negotiating table with open minds and genuine intentions to find a resolution.
Beyond both parties needing to feel invested in cooperation and communication, mediation can make sense for any of the following reasons:
- You want to keep an amicable relationship with your spouse or co-parent. (Yes, there’s strife during a divorce or legal dispute, but that doesn’t mean collaboration, mutual support, and friendship aren’t possible in varying degrees.)
- You want to reduce conflict during the divorce for the benefit of your children. Modeling effective conflict resolution and allowing your child to preserve a positive image of your ex-spouse or co-parent can go a long way toward mitigating any short-term negative experiences your child may have.
- You want a swifter or more affordable divorce.
- You want the matters of your divorce to be private.
- You want more flexibility in negotiating a settlement.
- You think a mediated divorce might be less stressful for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I find a mediator?
You can find a mediator by contacting divorce and family law firms. In New Jersey, divorce mediators who are on the Court-approved list must have successfully completed an education and training program to be qualified, but they don’t have to hold a law degree.
Yet understandably, many couples prefer to work with mediators who are also attorneys practicing in family law mediation and divorce. In especially amicable or straightforward divorce scenarios, this may even lead to a situation where neither party needs to hire an additional mediation attorney for independent counsel.
At Jacobs Berger, LLC, our divorce and family law attorneys—who are also trained and qualified mediators—stay up to date on current laws and decisions so that we can provide you with solutions that are close to what you’d hear from a judge—without the added time and expense of litigation.
If I choose mediation, do I need a divorce attorney?
If you choose mediation for some or all of your divorce process, it’s strongly recommended that you still hire a divorce attorney.
The mediator’s role is to be neutral and guide both parties toward a workable legal solution—but it helps to have someone who knows the laws and procedures in your corner.
At Jacobs Berger, LLC, our divorce and family law lawyers have years of experience working as mediation attorneys.
We can work with you to make sure you’re informed of relevant details as you go through the divorce process with the mediator, your spouse or co-parent, and your spouse or co-parent’s attorney to resolve complex legal issues—including child custody, spousal support, and asset division.
Particularly in situations where the mediator isn’t an attorney or the divorce settlement involves high-dollar assets or other complicated matters, divorcing parties may strongly prefer to have the support of legal advice as well.
Contact Our Experienced Attorneys Today!
Mediation can be a faster and less expensive approach to divorce (or really any legal issue)—and it can help preserve the collective mental health of you and your family as you go through a challenging undertaking. The mediation attorneys at Jacobs Berger, LLC have years of experience guiding couples through the process as highly-qualified mediators and as independent legal counsel.
Divorce with compromise can be a much faster, less stressful, and more cost-effective approach. Let us help you build a solution-oriented approach to move forward.
Begin taking steps to bring you closer to the future you’re seeking. Schedule a Strategic Planning Session.