Divorce mediation is a valuable alternative to divorce litigation – if you’re prepared, you understand your priorities, and you know what to expect. Effective divorce mediation saves time and money because you can schedule the sessions at your convenience and because there aren’t a lot of back and forth court motions. Divorce mediation should be a friendlier, more amicable process because a mediator is interested in solutions, not confrontation – but you need to anticipate that your spouse and his/her lawyer will fight for their positions. How can I do better in divorce mediation? – Work with an experienced New Jersey family law attorney.
What should I ask for in divorce mediation?
The mediator should be a neutral person who is experienced in resolving the key divorce issues – the division of marital property, child custody, alimony, and child support. Mediators often meet with you and your lawyer separately from your spouse and his/her lawyer – until the mediator thinks you’re close to an overall agreement.
Understanding how to get what you want in divorce mediation begins with understanding your rights. Even though the mediation is informal, your positions and those of your husband or wife will be based on the current New Jersey divorce laws and how the family judge in your county is likely to rule if you can’t reach an agreement.
Your lawyer will explain that judges decide the core divorce issues such as equitable distribution of property and child custody based on a variety of factors. The stronger position you have for each factor, the better results you’ll achieve. For example, in equitable distribution cases, the court will examine that contributions you made to your spouse’s career such as caring for the children count just as much as the time at work your spouse spent to advance his/her career. In such a case, emphasizing certain parts of your history with your children may affect how to get what you want in divorce mediation.
Once you understand how to present the strongest case for each phase of the divorce (property division, custody, alimony, and child support), you should prioritize your goals. Divorce mediation is largely about compromise. Compromise requires understanding what you think you must have and what you’re willing to give up. Compromise also means thinking through that if you have children, you will need to be able to communicate with your spouse once the divorce is final.
Some of the priorities that help you address how to get what you want in divorce mediation are:
Equitable distribution. If you have children, you’ll want to keep the marital home. If you own a business, you’ll want to keep your interest in the business. You may be willing to bargain away your interest in your spouse’s retirement benefits to keep the home and/or business.
Child custody. Courts always look out for the best interests of the child. If you can agree on joint custody, or even sole custody, you’ll need to work out the terms of the parenting plan. For example, you’ll need to decide which holidays are most important, how you’ll exchange your child with the other parent, and how disputes will be resolved.
Alimony. Once you understand that alimony generally depends on the length of the marriage and your ability to earn a living, you’ll need to evaluate how much money you need to attend school or acquire job skills.
Child support. You should have a budget ready so you know how much money you truly need for your child’s needs
How to get what you want in divorce mediation?
Once you know your rights and priorities, you should review the following factors which affect how to get what you want in divorce mediation:
Mediation requires compromise. You’ll often need to give up something to get something.
Preparation is critical. You should have the documents you need to verify your assets and income such as tax returns, pay stubs, debt statements, mortgage balances, and other figures. Know your children’s school and after-school schedules. If you need to attend school to earn a living, you should know how much tuition and books cost.
Be ready to come back another time. You’ll need to take care of your children until they’re 18 and you’ll need to have the funds you need for a fresh start and to live your life. While it’s nice to reach a settlement the first day, it may be in your best interest and your children’s best interests to have multiple mediation sessions. You should also be ready to say the mediation isn’t working and you want the judge to resolve the issues – if your spouse is unreasonable. Sometimes, coming back another time is the best way to address how to get what you want in divorce mediation.
You have the right to consult with your lawyer at all times. Your lawyer is your advocate. Listen to her advice and let her speak for you in conversations with the other lawyer and the mediator.
Think through your spouse’s positions. You lived with your spouse for some time. Even though you’re divorcing, you should anticipate what his/her priorities are – so you’re ready to respond to them.
At DeTorres & DeGeorge Family Law, our divorce lawyers are experienced at all forms of divorce resolution including mediation and collaborative divorce. We advise our clients on how to get what you want in divorce mediation. We’ll help your prepare for the mediation and calmly and professionally represent you at the mediation. If you follow our instructions and counsel, you will find out how to get what you want in divorce mediation. Call us at 908-691-2104 or complete our contact form to schedule an appointment. We have offices in Clinton and Morristown.