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What does the mediation process look like?

Nearly every family law attorney will tell you that if you and your spouse can mediate your divorce, or find some other way to reach an out-of-court settlement, you'll save time, money and a lot of headaches. When you consider these benefits, it's easy to see why couples find the motivation necessary to overcome their differences during mediation.

That said, not all mediations are a success. One thing that can help you overcome obstacles during your meditation is to familiarize yourself with the process before it begins.

What does the mediator do?

Think of the mediator as if he or she were a guide or coach. Your mediator has been trained to help people resolve their differences. The mediator will serve as a neutral third-party through which you and your spouse can communicate peacefully and overcome potential roadblocks to reaching a divorce settlement. The mediator will make sure that both you and your spouse have the same amount of time to speak without interruption. The mediator will also ask the parties to explain their needs and wishes in a way that's clear and peaceful.

What are the steps in the mediation process?

Your mediation process will move forward through a succession of meetings, which will usually last about one to two hours each. Here's how they will proceed:

  • In the first meeting, you, your spouse and the mediator will meet to determine the issues that you need to address. You'll also determine what information you will need to provide for the mediation to move forward effectively. During this session, both you and your spouse should have your respective family law attorneys present.
  • In subsequent meetings, you and your spouse will reach compromises regarding asset division, child custody, child and spousal support and other important issues.
  • In the last stage, the mediator will draft an agreement that reflects all of the issues that the spouses decided in the previous meetings. Both spouses will review the finalized divorce agreement with their respective attorneys and -- if they agree with the document -- they will sign it and the settlement will be finalized. Then, they will submit the divorce agreement to the appropriate New Jersey family law court for approval.

Are you and your spouse ready for the benefits of divorce mediation?

Once you begin the divorce mediation process, you're likely to see and understand the benefits of it. However, just like all matters in a divorce, you should consider what mediation entails carefully before you begin.

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