Divorce Mediation of New Jersey, LLC

5 Auer Court, Building 5, Suite A

East Brunswick, NJ 08816

732-238-8660

Located in Williamsburg Commons

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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What is Divorce Mediation?

Is there a down side to Divorce Mediation?

What gets discussed at Divorce Mediation?

What's the difference between a Mediator and an Arbitrator?

What's the best way to select a Divorce Mediator?

Does Mediation work in every Divorce Case?

How long will it take and what does it cost?

Does the Mediator Prepare the Divorce Papers?

Do We Have To Use an Attorney to Put Our Divorce Through Court?

Will We Have To Appear In Court?

How Much Child Support Will I Have To Pay?

Will I Have To Pay Alimony? How Much?

Do We Have To State Specific Reasons For Getting Divorced?

We Have Already Agreed On Everything. Do We Still Need a Mediator?

Can Mediation Help Us Before We Get Divorced?

Can Mediation Help Us After We Get Divorced?

We’re Not Married, But We Want Help Splitting Up. Can Divorce Mediation of New Jersey Help Us?

We’ve Already Started To Litigate Our Divorce. Can Divorce Mediation of New Jersey Still Help Us?



1. What Is Divorce Mediation?

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Most people are familiar with divorce litigation. It’s where each member of the couple hires lawyers to litigate the divorce case in an adversarial manner. Discovery is conducted, motions are made, and the case is prepared to be tried. All too often, the result of this adversarial process is financial ruin (it can easily cost tens of thousands of dollars in legal and other bills each), the squandering of whatever good will and affection that once existed between the litigants, and most tragically of all, children and other family members are caught in the middle.

The fact is, however, that the vast majority (over 90%) of litigated divorces settle. Those settlements often come too late – after life savings have been wiped out in litigation costs, after the remaining good will and respect each party had for the other has been squandered, and after the children or friends have been damaged in the crossfire.

At Divorce Mediation of New Jersey, we view divorce mediation as a sensible alternative to costly divorce litigation. It is divorce for grown ups. It is a means of getting divorced without ruining your lives. Our process uses a neutral mediator to assist the couple to identify the necessary issues that need to be addressed and to help them create reasonable solutions that work well for them and their lives.

Unlike divorce litigation, divorce mediation is non-adversarial. It means that one party will not “win” and one party will not “lose”. It involves the participants viewing themselves and each other not as adversaries or combatants, and instead focuses their efforts on finding workable solutions to their problems and needs.

2. Is There a Down Side to Divorce Mediation?

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No. At Divorce Mediation of New Jersey, we require no retainer. We bill on an hourly, pay as you go basis. If either of you doesn’t wish to continue, you simply stop coming. There is no contract, and no ongoing financial obligation hanging over your head.  You can pay by credit card if you like.

People are sometimes also concerned that by starting divorce mediation, they are giving up their right to litigate their divorce. This is not true. If either of you does not wish to continue mediation with Divorce Mediation of New Jersey, you can pursue divorce litigation. This tends not to happen however. The vast majority of couples that begin mediation with us, complete the process and obtain their divorce through the mediation process.

3. What Gets Discussed In Divorce Mediation?

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We cover the same topics that would be covered in a litigated divorce. If there are minor children, we discuss parenting schedules, parenting plans, child support and related issues. We discuss how to distribute both the financial assets and financial liabilities of the couple – e.g., what happens to the house, the cars, the Visa bill. This is called equitable distribution. We discuss whether spousal support (also referred to as alimony) is warranted, and if so, the nature, type and amount.

Each couple is different. One of the advantages of mediating your divorce with Divorce Mediation of New Jersey is that we take the time to understand your unique situation and your unique needs, wants and concerns. We take the time to craft a divorce agreement that addresses them.

4. What’s The Difference Between a Mediator and an Arbitrator?

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An arbitrator makes decisions for the couple after hearing from both of them. Usually, the parties agree ahead of time to be bound by that decision.


At Divorce Mediation of New Jersey, we are mediators, not arbitrators. We start from the premise that each individual and each couple is unique. We listen carefully to help identify each member of the couples concerns, issues and priorities and try to develop creative yet practical solutions that will translate these into a divorce that works well for the couple.


5. What’s the Best Way to Select a Divorce Mediator?

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Use the same common sense and due diligence that you would when hiring a lawyer, an accountant or other professional.

Things to take into account include the mediator’s educational and professional background. Most couples want a mediator who is also an experienced attorney, so that he or she can draw upon their knowledge both of points of law and typical resolutions of issues when they are litigated. The mediator should also have significant training in divorce mediation, and be a member of professional mediation organizations. Most of all, the mediator you select should be someone you feel that you will be able to talk to openly and honestly and who will do the same with you.

Our mediators are both experienced lawyers as well as divorce mediators. They understand not only the legal issues, but the financial, practical and emotional issues involved in divorce, and are able to discuss them with warmth, compassion and respect.

For a listing of Mr. Barry’s or Ms. Bowne Barry’s credentials, click here. To send either a mediation-related question via the internet, click here. To speak with either of them, please call (732) 238-8660.

6. Does Mediation Work in Every Divorce Case?

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Mediation works very effectively in most, but not all divorces. Mediation gets rid of the intermediaries and gets the couple talking, in a structured, safe environment, directly to one another. It stops the aggression. You talk to each other, perhaps for the first time in a long time, like grown ups. This is one of the reasons that divorce mediation as practiced at Divorce Mediation of New Jersey has been called “Divorce for Grown Ups.”


Surprisingly to many people, mediation does work well in cases where one or both parties are very angry. Why? The alternative to litigation – costly divorce litigation done through lawyers – tends to increase the anger, the bitterness, the threats, etc. Mediation tends to suppress these emotions.
Mediation gets rid of the intermediaries and gets the couple talking, in a structured, safe environment, directly to one another. It stops the aggression. You talk to each other, perhaps for the first time in a long time, like grown ups. This is one of the reasons that divorce mediation as practiced at Divorce Mediation of New Jersey has been called “Divorce for Grown Ups.”


Divorce mediation does not tend to work well in situations where one or both of the couple are unable or unwilling to act like grown ups. Examples include where one member of the couple is hiding assets or won’t provide requested documentation regarding assets or liabilities; where a member of the couple is unable or unwilling to articulate his or her wants or needs; where a member of the couple is unable or unwilling to make a decision, or where there is ongoing violence.


If you are wondering whether divorce mediation could help your situation, please call use at (732) 238-8660 or send us an e-mail by clicking here. At Divorce Mediation of New Jersey, we pride ourselves on having successfully mediated many cases that others thought could only be resolved through expensive, protracted litigation.


7. How long will it take and what will it cost?

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How long the mediation of divorce will take depends upon you, your schedule, the complexity of your situation and the level of agreement or disagreement that exists between the two of you.


For example, a couple that has considerable financial assets, such as a home, stocks, and other assets will have more things to consider than a couple that rents an apartment and has little, if any savings or other assets. A couple that has several young children will have many more things to consider and more decisions to make than will a couple without children. A couple with good communication skills that comes into mediation with a high degree of agreement on issues will require substantially less mediation time than a couple that hasn’t discussed such issues before the mediation.


The length of our sessions is tailored to you and your schedule. We generally work in one or two hour sessions, but can do longer sessions where necessary or appropriate and generally meet every other week. We have evening and weekend appointments available, and can work around your schedule. Unlike most law firms and many other mediators, at Divorce Mediation of New Jersey we do not require an up-front retainer. We work on a pay as you go system, where payment is made at the end of every session. Checks and credit cards are accepted. Our rates are substantially less than most experienced divorce lawyers. Payment by credit card, as well as by check, is accepted.


8. Does the Mediator Prepare the Divorce Papers?

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No. In New Jersey, the same person cannot act both as your mediator and as your attorney. You need two separate professionals.


The end product of divorce mediation at Divorce Mediation of New Jersey is a detailed document that sets forth in writing all the various points of agreement that were reached by you along the way. It called a Memorandum of Understanding or MOU, and is usually 18 to 22 pages long. One or both of you would give this document to your attorney, and your attorney would prepare the necessary paper work to file your case with the courts.


Clients are sometimes concerned that having to use a lawyer in addition to the mediator will be more expensive than just using a lawyer to handle the whole divorce. Using a divorce mediator to help you and your spouse reach agreement on the terms of your divorce eliminates over 90% of the work that is normally done by divorce attorneys in the litigation process, and is done at substantially less cost. The attorney role is reduced to a very narrow one: reviewing the MOU, drawing the legal papers, and appearing with you in court, if necessary, for a very brief appearance to put the divorce through.


It is important that the attorney that you choose for this limited function is a “mediation-friendly” attorney, that will not try to undo the work that you and your spouse did in mediation in order to “sell you” on expensive, protracted litigation. We maintain a list of qualified, cost-effective “mediation-friendly” attorneys for this purpose as a service to our clients.


9. Do We Have To Use an Attorney to Put Our Divorce Through Court?

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No. Many people file for divorce without using a lawyer, using forms and other information they find online, in the public library or elsewhere. There are savings with this approach as well as costs. The savings include the amount you would have paid an attorney to review the MOU, to answer any questions you might have, to prepare the Complaint and the accompanying paperwork, and to appear with you in Court to “put the divorce through.” The cost of not having an attorney is potentially much greater than the savings. Most clients feel it is worthwhile to have an attorney to whom they can direct their legal questions about the divorce, to review the MOU, to prepare the necessary paperwork and to guide them through the Court appearance.


While Divorce Mediation of New Jersey respects each person’s choice in this regard, it is our belief that the use of “mediation-friendly” attorneys enables clients to strike a balance between having the cost-savings that a mediated divorce provides with the protection that a qualified attorney offers.


10. Will We Have To Appear In Court?

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In most New Jersey counties, an appearance will be necessary by the person who files for the divorce. The other spouse is not required to appear, personally – and can instead be represented by an attorney. We recommend that both parties appear in Court, however, so that if there are any questions that arise, they can be addressed without adding delay to the process.


11. How Much Child Support Will I Have To Pay?

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Most people are not surprised to learn that the law requires parents to support their children, regardless or whether or not the parents are married to one another.


The State of New Jersey has developed NJ Child Support Guidelines to assist lawyers, Judges and the public in determining a minimum child support amount for families of a given size and income level. Many couples find understanding and applying the Child Support Guidelines to their situation difficult. Through the use of specialized computer programs, Divorce Mediation of New Jersey is able to assist its clients in demystifying the Guidelines and in understanding how they might apply to their situation.


The Internet offers several free New Jersey Child Support Guideline calculators. Two such calculators are here and here. These links are offered only as a public service. Divorce Mediation of New Jersey accepts no responsibility for the accuracy of these websites.


Child support is not tax-deductible. The person paying it does not get to deduct it from their taxes nor does the spouse receiving it have to report it as income on their taxes.


12. Will I Have To Pay Alimony? How Much?

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In New Jersey, “alimony” is now called “spousal support.”


Sometimes people are surprised to learn that not every divorce involves the award of spousal support. For one thing, there has to be the need for such support. For another, there has to be the request for such support. Further, there are different types of spousal support. It can be permanent (terminating upon the remarriage of the receiving spouse or the death of the paying spouse) or for a specific term (an agreed to number of years, also terminating upon the remarriage of the receiving spouse or the death of the paying spouse.) It can be for rehabilitative purposes (generally for a short, specific time frame for purposes of enabling the receiving spouse to be able to support themselves to a certain level; does not necessarily terminate on the receiving spouses remarriage but does terminate upon the paying spouse’s death) or for reimbursement purposes (e.g., to repay a spouse for debts incurred for the couple’s benefit; does not generally terminate upon the receiving spouse’s remarriage, but does terminate upon the paying spouse’s death.)


Unlike the question of child support, New Jersey law does not provide worksheets or guidelines to assist in the calculation of spousal support. Instead, New Jersey statute NJSA 2A:34-23(b) sets forth a variety of factors for the Court to consider in determining whether spousal support is warranted, its duration and its amount:

1. The actual need and ability of the parties to pay.
2. The duration of the marriage.
3. The age, physical and emotional health of the parties.
4. The standard of living established during the marriage.
5. The earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills, and employability of the parties.
6. The length of absence from the job market of the party seeking maintenance.
7. The parental responsibilities for the children.
8. The time and expense necessary to acquire sufficient education or training.
9. The history of financial and non-financial contributions to the marriage by each party.
10. The equitable distribution of property ordered and payouts on equitable distribution out of current income.
11. Any other factors which the court may deem relevant.

At Divorce Mediation of New Jersey, we work with each couple to explore their attitudes and opinions regarding the issue of spousal support, and where appropriate, help them reach agreement on the type, duration and amount of spousal support that works for them.


13. Do We Have To State Specific Reasons For Getting Divorced?

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New Jersey Statute 2A:34-2 sets forth the specific grounds upon which a divorce may be granted by a New Jersey Court:

- Irreconcilable Differences

- Adultery
- Willful and Continued Desertion
- Extreme Cruelty
- Separation
- Voluntarily Induced Addiction
- Institutionalization for Mental Illness
- Imprisonment
- Deviant Sexual Conduct

The most common no-fault basis for divorce in New Jersey is irreconcilable differences. It is the ground most commonly used. In general, this cause of action requires that irreconcilable differences have caused the breakdown of the marriage for six months with no reasonable prospect of reconciliation. Any Complaint for divorce in New Jersey will have to cite one or more of these grounds and elaborate upon it. You are advised to consult with a qualified New Jersey matrimonial attorney for more information.


14. We Have Already Agreed On Everything. Do We Still Need a Mediator?

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In general, the more a couple have agreed upon before sitting down with a mediator, the faster (and less expensive) the mediation process will be.


We often work couples that have “worked it all out” between themselves prior to their initial appointment. In such cases, we devote our time and effort to making sure that all the necessary details have been thought through (e.g., what happens if you get sick and can’t watch the kids even though it is your parenting time with them?) and that the plan will withstand the test of “real life.” We also review whether the proposed plan is equitable under all the circumstances.


15. Can Mediation Help Us Before We Get Divorced?

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Absolutely! One of the things we often do is help a couple agree upon “ground rules” they will both abide by prior to their divorce being finalized or while they are separated. Such “ground rules” can even be developed to address situations where the couple is deciding if they wish to get divorced. These interim agreements can address parenting schedules with the children, rules regarding conduct while with the children, the payment of joint bills, the sale of assets, the payment of professional fees such as attorneys and mediators and any other issue that is important to or relevant to the individuals and their circumstances.


16. Can Mediation Help Us After We Get Divorced?

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Yes! Although couples who mediate their divorce tend to have less serious disagreements than those who have been through contentious divorce litigation with each other, disagreements can arise after divorce. A standard provision we incorporate into our MOU’s is that the couple will meet in good faith to try to work out their disagreements directly with one another, before going to Court. Further, if that fails, they will attempt to resolve the issue through mediation before going to Court.  Please note that even if you litigated your divorce, you can still mediate any post-divorce disagreements at Divorce Mediation of New Jersey.


17. We’re Not Married, But We Want Help Splitting Up. Can Divorce Mediation of New Jersey Help Us?

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Yes. Regardless of whether you are married to each other or not, Divorce Mediation of New Jersey can assist you in identifying the important issues involved with splitting up. We can help you address each of the issues involved, from parenting issues to financial issues. Non-traditional families and couples are warmly welcomed and are assured of a safe, friendly and confidential environment within which their needs and concerns can be discussed and resolved.


18. We’ve Already Started To Litigate Our Divorce. Can Divorce Mediation of New Jersey Still Help Us?

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Sure. Many of our clients come to us after they’ve been in litigation. We help them to put the litigation on hold while they explore whether resolution is possible through mediation.  They come to us from litigation for different reasons. Some didn’t know about the sensible alternative to divorce litigation that Divorce Mediation of New Jersey provides. Some are simply looking for a better alternative to the thousands of dollars in monthly bills from their divorce attorneys with the end nowhere in sight.  We are often able to help a couple reach agreement on the terms of their divorce in a couple of months after a couple of years of litigation has failed to do so.


Please visit our Contact page if you have any further questions.


© 2005 Divorce Mediation of New Jersey, LLC