The most contentious divorce cases can sometimes involve a dispute over two or three issues. If the divorcing spouses visibly do not like each other, you might think they have a lot to fight over. This is not always the case. Many times, parties to a legal dispute are often closer to resolving their differences than each of them realizes. It is often helpful to have a neutral third-party review the matter and provide suggestions for resolving the dispute.
Parties to a legal dispute are free to resolve their differences at any time – even after they have brought their argument into the court system. New Jersey has permitted the use of various mechanisms to settle legal disputes without resort to expensive and time-consuming trials. One of those is mediation. It is available in a wide range of legal disputes, including but not limited to contract disputes and family law matters. Mediation could be ordered by the court if allowed by statute or other rules.
New Jersey’s ‘Uniform Mediation Act’ defines “mediation” as:
A process in which [a neutral third-party] facilitates communication and negotiation between parties helps them reach a voluntary agreement regarding their dispute.
Much like a judge, a mediator is required to disclose any known “conflicts” that would lead someone to conclude the mediator is partial to one of the parties. To encourage positive interactions between the parties, communications during mediation might be kept confidential, so they cannot be used as evidence. Benefits of mediation include:
- You are trying to settle your dispute while waiting for the next motion date or trial date.
- You have the opportunity to speak freely about your concerns and explore settlement options.
- You can save money by settling your case earlier than anticipated.
If you are a party or potential party to a legal dispute, consider whether mediation would be helpful.