In contested custody and parenting time actions in New Jersey, the judge may order the two parents to participate in the custody and parenting time mediation program before allowing the case to head to trial. The judge’s motives for doing this are twofold. First, the judge recognizes that an agreement on custody and parenting time voluntarily made by the parents is less likely to need modification in the future. Second, the court preserves resources and saves time by diverting cases to mediation where many are successful.
In mediation, a neutral third-party (the mediator) works with the two parents on negotiating an agreement on custody and parenting time. The parents make all the decisions, but the mediator provides information, guidance, and support. Some parents are intimidated by the prospect of making all the important decisions or knowing how to best protect their interests in mediation. While the mediator cannot give you personal legal advice during the process, you are permitted to consult with your own attorney before, during, and after the mediation process.
The mediator will inform you of your options for custody and parenting time, guide your discussion, and help you work through conflict when it arises. The focus is on compromise, and the mediator cannot force either of you to do anything. Remember; the mediator is impartial. His or her duty is to help both of you reach an agreement on custody that is in your child’s best interests. You can rely on the mediator to give you information about custody agreements and parenting plans and explain your options, but you must then take that information and work on a compromise with the other parent.
Consider working with an experienced New Jersey child custody attorney if you have been ordered to go to mediation. Even if you will be working with a mediator, you need to consult with an attorney about you rights before hand. You will also need an attorney to review your custody agreement if one is reached to ensure your best interests and those of your child are protected. And, if mediation is unsuccessful, you will want an attorney on your side when you take the matter to court to ask a judge to decide. The judge will ask you to submit a proposed parenting plan and you may have to present an argument for custody. This is where a child custody attorney can increase your chance of getting an outcome in your favor.
If you have questions about custody mediation, the Williams Law Group, LLC can help you. Our skilled child welfare and child custody attorneys can advise you of your rights and help you defend your rights in mediation. Located in Union, New Jersey, Williams Law Group, LLC provides compassionate and dedicated legal services to Union, Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Morris, Monmouth, and Middlesex counties, and the surrounding areas. Our knowledgeable attorneys handle divorce and family law, child custody, and child abuse/neglect cases. Call our office at (908) 810-1083, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact us through our confidential online form to schedule a consultation and ultimately get you connected with an experienced New Jersey divorce and child custody attorney.