Most people are now familiar with mediation as a form of alternative dispute resolution. People usually think they have to choose between the court process or mediation regarding divorce.
However, even though it is true that a divorcing couple can choose to use private mediation at any time during their divorce in lieu of going to court, it is also true that New Jersey courts use mediation as part of the process. In other words, you will encounter mediation even if you go to court for a divorce. Most family courts around the country do the same.
Court-mandated and private mediation have significant differences, though. In court, the judge will require that the parties attend mediation to address custody and parenting time if they have disagreements before they can request a trial.
The judge will also require that the parties attend mediation with a specialized mediator to address their economic disagreements if the issues are not resolved during the early settlement panel.
Differences between court-mandated and private mediation
- Court-mandated mediation with the child custody and parenting time mediator is free of charge to the parties
- Court-mandated mediation with the economic mediator is free of charge for the first two hours, after which the parties must pay the mediator directly
- Private mediation is paid by the parties directly to the mediator
- Private mediation is much faster than going through the court process, so even if you hire attorneys to negotiate a settlement in mediation, it would likely cost you less than going to court
- Court-mandated mediation is mandatory, whereas private mediation is optional
- Both types of mediation are non-binding. However, if the parties reach an agreement, that agreement can become a binding contract.
- Both types of mediation are confidential
- In private mediation, the parties can choose the mediator. In court-mandated mediation, the court appoints a mediator for the parties.
Mediation is highly effective as a form of alternative dispute resolution, and both types can include attorneys. Private mediation, however, is much less rigid, more flexible and tailored to the individual clients.