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The Requirements for a Successful Divorce Mediation

By Sarah Jacobs, Esq.

As alternatives to litigation-based divorce become more and more popular, many New Jersey couples are choosing mediation to resolve their legal disputes. Mediation is a great method to resolve complex issues including alimony, child support, child custody, division of assets, and more. However, mediation also requires that both parties are willing to take the necessary steps to respectfully and amicably adhere to the mediation process. Participants must select an experienced mediator, fully and accurately disclose their finances, maintain a cooperative mindset, and much more.

The mediation attorneys of Jacobs Berger take pride in offering alternative conflict resolutions throughout New Jersey. Our firm is built on the belief that legal disputes do not need to come with unnecessary stress or finger pointing. Call our office today for a strategic planning session regarding your divorce or other family law legal matter and the possibility of using mediation as a conflict resolution tool.

The Financial Disclosure Process

Most divorce proceedings involve some manner of a discovery phase. This part of the divorce process may involve both spouses sharing financial documents, interrogatories (questions which must be answered under oath), requests for further documentation, and even depositions. In mediation, this process still exists, but is condensed when possible. Your Morristown mediation lawyer will still recommend that you take this process very seriously, as the mediator can only make decisions based on the information they are given.

Paperwork typically required for divorce mediation can include:

  • Prenuptial or postnuptial agreements
  • Previous court orders
  • Financial documentation including real estate deeds, debts, pay stubs, bank account statements, investment account statements, and much more
  • Temporary child custody, child support, or alimony agreements
  • Much more

The Importance of Mindset During Mediation

By choosing mediation, divorcing couples have chosen to work with one another to reach an amicable agreement. While it is unreasonable to expect that you will always be on the same page, it is vital that you approach the mediation process with an open mind and a cooperative attitude. Participants in mediation are often surprised at how similarly they view potentially contentious issues when they take the time to hear out their partner.

Successful mediations do not require participants to agree, but they do sometimes require a willingness to meet in the middle. It cannot be overstated that the mindset of individuals going into a mediation is often the largest indicator for success. Many approach the divorce process with the idea that they must “win” to come away with a favorable outcome. This simply is not the case. Successful mediations should result in all parties feeling happy with the result.

What Role Does the Mediation Attorney Play in a Successful Divorce Mediation?

During the mediation process, the mediator should be doing the heavy lifting. A qualified mediation attorney or mediator will do their best to ensure that the mediation process is fair, respectful, and ultimately ends in a successful agreement. There are a few ways to make sure that your mediation attorney or mediator will work for all parties:

  • Decide whether you will be using a mediator or a mediation attorney. At the end of the day, this individual will mediate your disputes in much the same fashion. The difference being that a mediation attorney is a practicing attorney while a mediator is a non-legal professional who has been trained as a mediator
  • Select a mediator or mediation attorney that both parties can agree to. It is vital that both parties are 100 percent comfortable with your choice for mediator
  • The mediator must remain neutral throughout the mediation process. If you feel this is not the case, you may want to consult with independent legal counsel. This is one of the reasons why working with a mediation attorney and/or securing independent legal counsel is often recommended
  • Make sure your mediator or mediation attorney is qualified. Many mediators are not family law specialists and many family law attorneys do not specialize in mediation. By selecting an individual who believes in the mediation process and is qualified to tackle the issues of your dispute, you will have a great chance at a successful mediation

Extra Tips for a Successful Mediation

Preparing for Mediation

A successful mediation begins with proper and thorough preparation. The “discovery process” of a mediation begins immediately, with both parties sharing financial and other critical information with one another, their attorneys, and the mediator. However, that is not all that is involved in the preparation process.

Prepare documentation and other nuts and bolts. Financial statements, deeds, debts, owned assets, mortgages, tax returns, pay stubs, and much more may be required for your divorce mediation. Collecting these ahead of time will ultimately save both parties time and effort in the long run.

Set goals with your attorney. Mediation can be considered a form of negotiation. Before entering into negotiation, it is vital that you discuss your goals. It may be wise to think of “must haves”, “want to haves”, and “can live withouts”.

Set reasonable expectations. Along those lines, your attorney should be able to advise on what you can reasonably expect in terms of your eventual divorce agreement.

Communication and Mindset

Once your formal mediation begins, it is important to stick to your plan and keep an open mind. Mediation benefits those who communicate openly and with the understanding that a mutually beneficial outcome is possible.

Avoid the “winning vs. losing” mindset. Litigation means to litigate, which is to “contest” through a court of law. Our Morristown Mediation Attorneys advise our clients to remember that mediation is not a contest, and that the end goal is to find an agreement that benefits both parties. Where there is a winner, there must also be a loser. This mindset has no place in mediation.

Consider what is best for all parties. This is particularly relevant if you and your spouse are parents. It is not just what is best for you going through a divorce, but what is best for your family and your family’s future.

Keep a positive attitude. This may seem a little rah rah, but keeping a positive and open outlook can go a long way during mediation disputes. Mediation conflict resolution often involves fair compromise. You must be prepared to give in order to receive.

Contact Our Morristown Divorce Mediators Today

At Jacobs Berger, our divorce mediation attorneys are qualified as mediation attorneys and as independent legal counsel within the mediation process. We have extensive experience helping our clients resolve complex legal matters across Morris County communities including East Hanover, Denville, Randolph, Madison, Morristown, Tewksbury, Rockaway and all of Northern New Jersey. Our firm views each divorce and family law case we accept as an opportunity to help our clients build a solid future for their families. Our experienced attorneys offer highly personalized and multidimensional legal solutions to address our clients’ unique needs and concerns.

To learn more about the mediation process and how it might work for you, please contact us online today to schedule a strategic planning session.

Contact Our Morristown Attorneys Today

At Jacobs Berger, our attorneys are experienced in protecting our clients across Madison, Randolph, Tewksbury, Morristown, and the greater Morris County area in all family law-related issues.

To schedule a strategic planning session with one of our experienced team members regarding your particular case, please contact us online or through our Morristown, NJ office at (973) 354-4506.