Frequently Asked Questions
How does Montclair Divorce Mediation work?
Instead of fighting with each other about every issue in a New Jersey divorce through the court system, which is time consuming and very costly, the couple instead meets with a trained accredited divorce mediator and over the course of several sessions the divorce mediator working closely with the divorcing couple identifies their concerns and pinpoints those important issues affecting their family. The New Jersey divorce mediator is there as a neutral person who guides the couple through the mediation process and assists the couple in communicating their points of view concerning their assets, liabilities, future support and co-parenting issues. The experienced divorce mediator also provides the couple with multiple options for resolving those issues. The divorce mediator will enable discussions in a non-threatening, non-judgmental environment in order to achieve the divorcing couples' goals and arrive at a divorce settlement agreement that both parties feel is reasonable and fair.
How long does the divorce mediation process take?
Generally, the parties meet with the divorce mediator in sessions which last 1-2 hours in length weekly or bi-monthly. The number of divorce mediation sessions depends upon the issues affecting the parties such as the division of assets, debt allocation, co-parenting issues, as well as, the parties being prepared for the sessions. The couple will decide on the pace of mediation.
How does divorce mediation differ from going to court?
Divorce litigation is an adversarial process whereby the parties utilize attorneys who advocate as best they can for their client, which often results in negative encounters between the opposing sides. Divorce attorneys exchange information through discovery, which is the method used in the litigated cases. The information is exchanged through interrogatories, which are a series of written questions answered by the opposing party under oath. Documents must be presented, such as three to five year's worth of credit card statements, tax returns, and bank statements, to name a few.
There could also be subpoenas served on individuals, organizations or companies to obtain information from them about the opposing party. In some cases, the parties and other individuals are deposed, which is a process whereby a person answers questions under oath in the presence of the divorce attorneys and a court stenographer. Depending on the complexities of the case, each side may hire their own experts. These experts may include accountants, appraisers, employability evaluators, child therapists, business appraisers, actuaries, psychiatrists, and pension evaluators. The divorce litigation process is very adversarial and is geared to amassing information to benefit your side while weakening the opposing side so that a judge will rule in your favor after a trial is conducted. In a divorce trial there's no jury, only the judge.
New Jersey divorce mediation differs significantly from divorce litigation. The divorce mediation, and the Montclair Divorce Mediation process in particular, is non-adversarial, encouraging the parties to work together to reach a mutually beneficial agreement. This is accomplished by coaching, educating and guidance provided by the accredited divorce mediator. Because there is less fighting involved, and more problem solving, divorce mediation helps the couple stay focused on the best interests for them and their children. The divorce mediator will assist the parties through a combination of techniques to reach a solution that is best for their entire family. Montclair Divorce Mediation allows the parties to make their own important decisions about their lives, rather than having a judge or attorneys decide their future. New Jersey divorce mediation is also significantly less expensive than litigating the case, which depending on the issues involved can easily exceed $50,000.00, for each side.
What are some of the benefits of divorce mediation?
Divorce mediation through the assistance of an accredited divorce mediator at Montclair Divorce Mediation provides couples in Northern and Central New Jersey with opportunities for positive communication and mutual cooperation so they are able to seek useful solutions to their divorce issues. The couple retains control over their lives and their future by deciding what is best for them and their family without the adversarial judicial system. The New Jersey divorce mediation process is far less costly than litigating through the courts. Divorce mediation also takes significantly less time than going through the litigation process. New Jersey couples that are able to decide with the assistance of a well-trained divorce mediator as to what is a fair and reasonable settlement have far less post-divorce disagreements which require court intervention.
In summary there are several benefits to choosing divorce mediation over litigation:
- You maintain full control over the process.
- There is strict confidentiality whereas litigation is public.
- There are no New Jersey Court time limits or other time constraints. We proceed at your pace.
- We are focused on your needs and the best interests of you and your children.
- The final decision is yours and not a judge or some attorneys; mediation allows us to craft a solution that's right for you.
- We can structure your divorce agreement in a non-standard way, whether that involves division of the marital assets, co-parenting or alimony; we have options which are not provided in litigation.
- Mediation is very affordable. The money you save by not litigating remains with you.
Are all New Jersey Divorce Mediators the same?
Absolutely not. In addition to utilizing different approaches and styles to the divorce mediation process, the qualifications of divorce mediators are vastly different. At Montclair Divorce Mediation, mediator, Nick De Metro, is an Accredited Family Law Mediator by the New Jersey Association of Professional Mediators (NJAPM), as well as a licensed New Jersey attorney who previously handled many New Jersey contested divorces. In addition, Nick's legal experience includes real estate law, business formation and commercial law, landlord tenant law and bankruptcy law. His legal experience and mediation skills provide his clients with a top rated mediator who has practical knowledge and real solutions for today's multifaceted divorces. Nick De Metro saw how destructive the divorce process could be without mediation, and decided to dedicate his professional expertise to handling divorce mediation exclusively. Other New Jersey divorce mediators may not be attorneys at all, and few attorneys solely limit their practice to just divorce mediation. Many attorneys who say they are mediators are still very busy litigating contested divorce cases and only handle an occasional mediation case. Choose an accredited divorce mediator with the experience and commitment you need and get the results you deserve.
Does a mediator have to be licensed in New Jersey?
It's a bit scary, but there are no licensing requirements or even regulations to being a New Jersey divorce mediator. Anyone can say they are a mediator. However, in New Jersey many mediators are professionals having a license in a particular field like mental health, such as social workers and psychotherapists, or have a license to practice law. It's very important to know what the background and experience level is of a mediator before you hire him.
What should I look for when selecting a New Jersey divorce mediator?
You should select a divorce mediator who is experienced. He should be an accredited professional mediator by NJAPM. He should be able to explain divorce law to you. He should be mediating divorces on a regular basis. His mediation style approach should align with your needs. You should view his web site and determine if he is focused on mediation rather than litigation or something else. He should provide you with clear answers to your questions. He should offer you options for the final written document he prepares such as, a memorandum of understanding or the marital settlement agreement. Finally, you should feel comfortable talking to him.
What is NJAPM?
The New Jersey Association of Professional Mediators is a non-profit organization dedicated to the practice of dispute resolution through mediation. NJAPM grants accreditation to those mediators that have achieved recognition in the field of mediation for excellence, which have a law degree, mental health or business advanced degree, who have undertaken extensive mediation training and handled over 100 mediated cases.
How much does Montclair Divorce Mediation cost?
Most New Jersey divorce mediators charge on an hourly basis similar to New Jersey divorce attorneys. This could quickly add up as hourly rates for qualified accredited divorce mediators range from $300.00 to $600.00, for all time spent on your file. At Montclair Divorce Mediation we take a different approach. We believe that it's of paramount importance for divorcing couples in New Jersey to concentrate on communicating and achieving a fair and reasonable settlement without the additional concern of increasing hourly fees. As a result, Montclair Divorce Mediation offers a flat fee option for review of all documents and conducting divorce mediation sessions leading up to and including the preparation of the document which details your settlement. There are no hidden fees. We strive to offer our clients options. We discuss the fee options we provide to our clients in our initial complimentary meeting.
Does Montclair Divorce Mediation require a retainer?
Unlike most of the other mediators and attorneys who demand $5,000.00 or $7,500.00, for divorces, we do not require a retainer. We understand the economy is tough, so depending on the fee option you select, we don't require a retainer or deposit. You may simply pay at the end of each session. We accept checks, Visa, MasterCard and Discover for your convenience.
What are some of the issues discussed in divorce mediation?
While each marriage has its own unique issues, some of the more common issues discussed during the divorce mediation process include:
- Division of family assets including marital residence and bank accounts
- How to handle joint marital and individual debts
- Retirement accounts
- Investment properties
- Family owned businesses & self-employment
- Premarital assets
- Child legal and residential custody
- Child support
- Spousal / alimony support
- Parenting time
- Child care expenses
- Future child education costs
- Relocation of a parent
- Tax considerations
- Parenting styles
- Parent communications
How can we be productive in divorce mediation when we can't talk to each other?
The presence of a trained divorce mediator dramatically changes the interpersonal dynamics of the divorcing couple. An accredited divorce mediator has the skills necessary to foster constructive communications between the couple. Through the process, the couple comes to understand that it's in the best interests of their family to work together with the assistance of the divorce mediator to reach a fair and reasonable settlement.
Are there different approaches to divorce mediation?
There are three main models of practice used by divorce mediators. They are facilitative mediation, evaluative mediation and transformative mediation. Montclair Divorce Mediation utilizes a unique combination of all three models in a practical goal oriented approach. We have found that this synergistic approach works best to help assist couples communicate and arrive at a fair and reasonable settlement agreement. However, there are New Jersey mediators who may adhere to just one of the three models of approach to mediation and couples should be aware of the differences between each model.
Facilitative mediation emphasizes a process in which the couple is more actively involved in making the decisions that affect their lives. It involves systematically identifying issues through collaborative communication. Facilitative divorce mediation is more focused on getting the couple to communicate with each other rather than achieving a resolution or settlement. The facilitative mediator typically does not offer options, propose solutions, or even opine about the fairness of a proposed agreement. The fairness of the agreement is left to the couple to decide, rather than what may be the standard of fairness. Some facilitative mediators require the couple to be represented by attorneys prior to accepting the case to mediate. In addition, many facilitative approach mediators like to hold individual sessions with each spouse rather than conduct joint sessions.
The purpose of the transformative mediation model is to effectuate a change in the couple's communication style and how they deal with each other. The idea is to transform the relationship of the couple and is geared more towards therapy than divorce mediation. The transformative mediator is more concerned with each person's empowerment, recognition and changing the quality of their interactions with the other than with seeking a settlement. The transformative divorce mediation process seeks to positively alter the couple's interactions so that permanent change could occur and the couple discover their own way through the conflict.
Evaluative mediation is based upon a settlement conference format. The divorce mediator will assist in evaluating the positions of the couple and offer substantive knowledge and experience. In evaluative divorce mediation, the divorce mediator may have individual or joint sessions with each of the parties and/or utilize shuttle diplomacy. Settlement is the primary goal of evaluative mediation and usually it is placed ahead of any process. Evaluative approach mediators look at the cost benefit analysis and legal perspective of the parties' positions while seeking to promote a fair resolution of the issues.
Do we need to each have a lawyer?
The decision to hire an attorney is a personal choice. We encourage couples to seek legal advice when needed. Some couples retain attorneys and some do not. At Montclair Divorce Mediation, attorney mediator, Nick De Metro takes the time to explain the law to couples in a clear understandable manner while always remaining neutral.
If we already started New Jersey divorce litigation can we still mediate?
Absolutely. The New Jersey Superior Court Chancery Division – Family Part strongly encourages divorcing litigants to mediate their cases. The litigation may be placed on administrative hold with the judge's permission and while the parties' divorce attorneys are still available for consultations and advice. This allows the divorcing couple, with the assistance of the divorce mediator, Nick De Metro, to work at formulating a resolution and crafting a settlement. Mediation just makes economic sense rather than continuing to pay thousands of dollars in monthly legal fees.
How do we get started?
Contact Montclair Divorce Mediation by telephoning (973) 747-6428 and schedule an initial complimentary meeting where you will meet with Accredited Mediator Nick De Metro, who will provide you with more information on the mediation process and answer your questions.