Do I Have to Go to Mediation?

Getting a divorce is a watershed moment, where all events in life can be measured as what came before and what came after.  Divorce can be a very stressful event, even when the spouses get along relatively well and are willing to work together to resolve the issues.  The vast majority of civil cases are settled before they reach a final hearing, and divorce is no exception.  One of the tools used to help facilitate settlement is mediation.  During mediation, the spouses and their attorneys sit down with a neutral third party who helps facilitate communication and help with coming to an agreement.  Some people facing divorce may wonder if they have to go to mediation.

In New Jersey, the law requires that the parties attend mediation before they can proceed to a final hearing in divorce.  The reason for this is because there are so many divorces that the courts’ dockets can be easily and quickly clogged if every divorce case would need to go to a final hearing.  With mediation, the parties retain the ability to craft tailor-made solutions that fit their families and their respective needs.  Parties also save money, as mediation often leads to a settlement, and the parties will then not have to pay their respective attorneys the often considerable sum to prepare for a final hearing.  Moreover, with mediation, the spouses can potentially come to an agreement on some, but not all, of the issues in their divorce.  The advantage of this is that with fewer issues outstanding, the parties retain control over at least some of the issues, and will not have to spend as much money on attorney’s fees.

There is, however, a very important exception to the general rule that all divorces must go to mediation before going to a final hearing.  Pursuant to New Jersey statute, If there is a preliminary or final order of domestic violence entered pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:25-17, et seq. (also known as the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act), the matter shall not be referred to mediation.  When there has been no order entered, the case may still be referred to mediation even when there have been issues of domestic violence or child abuse as long as those issues are not to be mediated.  Finally, either party may file a petition with the court to remove the case from referral to mediation for a show of good cause.  Note, however, that one party not believing a settlement is likely is not sufficient to demonstrate good cause.

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We have extensive experience helping our clients navigate mediation in their family law cases.  Call us today, and we can talk to you about how mediation can help resolve your case.

Are you interested in seeking an annulment? If so, contact Williams Law Group, LLC right away. Our family law attorneys will review your case to determine if an annulment is an option. If it is, we will guide you through the process and ensure you make the best decisions for your future. Call our office at (908) 738-8512, email us atinfo@awilliamslawgroup.com, or contact us through our confidential online form to schedule a consultation

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