Using a Mediator in Your Divorce In Ocean County
Under the New Jersey Rule of Professional Conduct (RPC 1.7), a lawyer cannot represent “adverse parties” in the same proceeding. In divorce cases, the spouses are adverse parties, so they cannot share a single attorney. With divorce mediation, the parties are not “sharing” an attorney, but using a neutral third party to assist in resolving their issues. Not all divorce mediators are attorneys, so it is important that the parties choose a divorce mediator educated in New Jersey divorce law to ensure that any agreement reached by the parties is legal and appropriate. Most parties who choose mediation will also employ attorneys to help them understand their legal rights and responsibilities and to review the final agreement and submit the agreement to the court at the time of the uncontested hearing.
The Role of the Mediator and the Mediation Process In Brick Township
The role of the mediator is very different than the role of the attorney. The mediator's goal is to identify the issues of the divorce and to find solutions that benefit both parties. He or she will suggest creative approaches to complex problems and encourage the parties to take control of the decision-making process. In litigation, the objective is often to “beat” the other party, whereas, in meditation, the aim is to make certain the parties are equally satisfied with the results and come out feeling like “winners.”
The Brick Township mediator will spend several sessions with the parties identifying their issues and resolving their differences, in order to construct a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that truly represents the parties' wishes in the divorce. Some of the issues the MOU covers include custody of the children, child support, spousal support, distribution of assets, retirement, and taxes.
While the mediator helps the parties to form the MOU, the attorneys help the parties to understand the legal ramifications of their decisions. Once the MOU is complete, the lawyers will review the document with the parties, and prepare any necessary court papers. The final copy of the MOU will be submitted to the court and the parties may appear before a judge in Toms River so that the divorce can be finalized. After the Court has finalized the divorce, the MOU is binding on the parties.
It is important to understand that a mediator does NOT take the place of legal counsel. The mediator must remain neutral, and is not permitted to give legal advice to either party. The mediator cannot take sides or make any binding legal decisions. Private mediation is not the same as court-ordered mediation. There is no obligation to reach an agreement, and if an agreement cannot be reached, the mediation will be terminated.
Qualified Divorce Mediator
Attorney Vincent C. DeLuca, Esq. of Villani & DeLuca is a qualified divorce mediator in Ocean and Monmouth counties who has been a divorce mediator for hundreds of Brick Township residents. Mr. DeLuca has approximately 20 years of legal experience. He is also certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Matrimonial Law Attorney. If you are considering mediation and you resided in Brick Township, Point Pleasant or anywhere in Ocean County, contact our offices today at 732-965-3404 to arrange for a free consultation. At your first meeting, Mr. DeLuca will address your questions and concerns about the mediation process, and review the alternatives. Mediation is not for everyone, but it is often less expensive than litigation and takes substantially less time. Because mediation focuses on finding solutions, rather than arguing over problems, it has a more positive impact on the families and children involved. Mediation also offers the opportunity for the parties to maintain their privacy. All discussions take place at our Point Pleasant Beach office and are scheduled at your convenience.