Mediation is a non-adversarial process in which parties go before a neutral third party who helps them to resolve their dispute in a supportive and cooperative setting. Mediation encourages parties to focus on the issues of the divorce, rather than their emotions, in order to take control of the divorce process and come to decisions that leave both parties satisfied.
Mediation tends to take less time than a traditional divorce, and may cost less money. The parties control the pace of the mediation, and may discuss their issues outside of mediation sessions in order to speed up the process. Parties often maintain independent legal counsel to assist them in understanding their rights and obligations and to ensure they fully understand the impact of their decisions.
The mediator will construct a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that reflects the agreement reached by the parties on such issues as custody and parenting time, spousal and child support, equitable distribution, professional fees and dispute resolution. The MOU will become part of the marital settlement agreement prepared by the attorneys.
Collaborative Divorce Overview
In collaborative divorce, both parties meet with their respective attorneys to discuss their needs and concerns before meeting in a series of four-way sessions to reach a settlement without involving the court. Just as in mediation, all the issues of the divorce are discussed, including but not limited to child and spousal support, custody and parenting time, and equitable distribution of assets. Unlike mediation, collaborative divorce usually involves consulting with other professionals, including mental health professionals and financial experts. When a settlement is reached, attorneys file the appropriate paperwork required by the court, and the divorce is then finalized on an uncontested basis.
The Benefits of Mediation and Collaborative Divorce
Divorce can be a very expensive and time-consuming process. Litigation requires the parties to relinquish control of their futures to the judge, who may reach decisions that leave both parties unsatisfied. Mediation and collaborative divorce both offer parties the opportunity to seize control over the outcome of their divorce. Both options allow parties to hire independent counsel, but to proceed in a manner that is cooperative and peaceful. Mediation and collaborative divorce also provide parties with privacy. These processes take place in a confidential setting, so the parties are not forced to air their private affairs in a courtroom in Monmouth County for the for the friends and neighbors to see. Mediation and collaborative divorce are not for everyone. They require patience, calm, and the ability to focus on results, rather than rehashing problems.