Divorced or divorcing parents in New Jersey should be aware that mediation is an option that’s available to them. Child custody mediation can have several advantages when compared to court proceedings. It’s not adversarial; instead, mediators seek to build consensus because they are a neutral third party. As a process, mediation can also be much quicker and less expensive than going to court.
The nuts and bolts of mediation
There are two ways that parents end up in mediation. Sometimes, one parent suggests it. In these situations, it’s always a good idea to at least consider the proposal. If you decide to agree to mediation, be sure to let your partner know in writing. This ensures that everyone is clear on what attempts have been made to reach a custody arrangement. It can prove to a judge that you made a good faith effort to arrive at an agreement.
Sometimes, the court will order parents into mediation. Always follow your lawyer’s advice in these situations. If you are ordered into mediation and refuse to attend even one session, the judge can hold you in contempt of court, which is often a very bad sign.
Mediators typically have both legal and conflict resolution training. They generally gain experience working as co-mediators before going into business as solo practitioners. As your lawyer may explain, mediation sessions usually last about two to three hours. If the two parties reach an agreement, the mediator will help them write it out for presentation to the court.
Custody mediation can be a great tool in some divorces. It’s wise to discuss this option with an experienced lawyer before pursuing it. A legal professional may have advice about whether it’s a good option for you and why.