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What is an Early Settlement Panel?

By Sarah Jacobs, Esq.

The Early Settlement Panel Morris County NJ

The early settlement panel is an alternative dispute resolution program. The goal of the early settlement program is as the name implies to try to have the parties reach a settlement of the issues in dispute between you and your spouse as soon as possible, in the most efficient manner, and without going to trial.

After the discovery stage and as outlined in NJ Rule 5:5-5. this mandatory court appearance is aimed at reaching a written settlement of the issues raised at hand between the spouses if possible, therefore eliminating the need for litigation and avoiding a costly trial and possible appeal. A settlement also eases the emotional burden that is associated with litigated matrimonial cases.

Both parties must submit their papers to the ESP coordinator and the panelists at least five days before the hearing date. If you fail to participate or to provide required information, you might be required to pay the attorney fees of the other party or the court might dismiss your pleading.

Serving Divorce Clients in Morristown, Chester, Parsipanny, Randolph, Mendham, and more towns across Morris County and Northern NJ

The divorce and family law attorneys of Jacobs Berger understand the many complexities of the divorce process. Our experienced and qualified divorce attorneys work closely with out clients and their families to mitigate the many financial and emotional stresses of divorce during and after your legal proceedings.

Call our office today to discuss your questions and concerns regarding the Early Settlement Panel or any divorce related matter in a strategic planning session with a member of our legal team.

Early Settlement Panel FAQs in New Jersey Family Courts

Who are the Early Settlement Panelists?

An early settlement panel is one of the opportunities that the court system gives you in order to bring a settlement benefit to couples that are in dispute over potential issues. An early settlement panel is comprised of two or three attorneys who are volunteering their time with nothing to do with the case and have no interest in the issues involved or the outcome in the case.

What are the Early Settlement Panelists Responsible for?

What they do is they read statements that are prepared by either the litigant or the litigant´s attorney and submitted to them in advance. They review the financial information that is provided to them and then give recommendations to the attorneys and to the litigants as to what they believe a judge sitting in the courthouse, that you are appearing in front of, would do when the same issues that are in the statements are presented to the judge.

Are their Recommendations Binding?

The early settlement panel is not binding and the recommendations that are made by the panelists at the early settlement panel are purely to help facilitate a resolution of the issues. They are more accurate than not, given the length of experience that the panelists have in their area of law that you are bringing to them, and they have an opportunity to review the specific facts of your case, but the recommendations are not something that you must follow at the end of an early settlement panel.

What’s next if we cannot agree on terms?

You and your attorney or you alone, if you don’t have an attorney, have an opportunity to review the panel recommendations, and if there´s no settlement at or immediately following an early settlement panel you then proceed to what is known as economic mediation.

What topics are covered by the Early Settlement Panel?

It’s important though to understand that the early settlement panel does not deal with any custody or parenting time issues. It only deals with financial issues that are before the court, so issues of alimony, college contribution, equitable distribution, imputation of income and debits and credits. Child support is something that can be considered, so the panel would like to understand what the custody and parenting time situation is so that they can properly assess the issues concerning child support but they do not make recommendations concerning custody and parenting time decisions.

Contact A Morristown Divorce Attorney To Navigate The Early Settlement Panel Today

At Jacobs Berger, our divorce attorneys have extensive experience helping clients navigate the divorce process in Morris County towns such as Morristown, Madison, Denville, Randolph, Rockaway, Morris Township, Florham Park, and all of Northern New Jersey. We view each divorce case we take as an opportunity to help our clients build a solid foundation for their family’s future. Although the divorce process has a finite beginning and end, we believe in offering legal services which extend beyond and prepare our clients for their new lives.

To speak with one of our qualified attorneys in a strategic planning session, please contact us online or through our Morristown offices by dialing (973) 710-4366 today.

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.