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Divorce Approaches

There are different paths to choose when approaching divorce in New Jersey. While the court system is there to provide final rulings, the course to that moment can be financially expensive, often escalates  anxiety, tension, and emotions and difficulties on children. The attorneys at BorgerMatez have over 150 combined years of litigation experience that can be called upon when that path is absolutely necessary. However, we also offer  litigation alternatives such as divorce mediation and the collaborative divorce process. Watch Gary Borger, Esq. discuss ADR in the short video below and then scroll down to learn about each of these alternative approaches to divorce. When you’re ready, call us at 856-424-3444 or click here.

DIVORCE MEDIATION

Divorce and family law mediation involves parties in a family law dispute retaining a neutral & trained mediator to serve as a facilitator to assist them in reaching a settlement of their disputes in a safe and amicable setting. Parties (divorcing couples and others) meet together with the mediator, often on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. During mediation sessions, the parties negotiate directly with one another in the presence of the mediator who facilitates the discussions and negotiations, without imposing his/her opinions on the parties or advocating for either. The divorce mediator keeps the parties focused on the issues being discussed and makes sure they address all the issues which require resolution in their divorce or other family law dispute. Experts or other professionals may be involved in mediation, such as forensic accountants, real estate appraisers, psychologists who serve as custody and parenting-time experts, or others as are necessary and appropriate. The mediators at BorgerMatez  allow attorneys to participate in mediation sessions. In appropriate situations, a coach may also be involved outside the mediation sessions to assist the parties as they navigate through the emotional turmoil and devastation of divorce or other family law disputes.

 

Although many mediators are attorneys with family law experience, the mediator does not represent either spouse, should not give any legal advice to the parties, and cannot make decisions for the parties when they themselves cannot reach agreement but may make suggestions from experience for the parties to consider. It is recommended that the parties meet with individual  attorneys to gain an understanding of New Jersey law as it pertains to their specific situation. In mediation, the parties are not bound by the law, but can fashion their own settlement terms without regard to what a judge might impose upon them based on the law after trial. This gives the parties freedom to create an agreement that meets their particular needs and the needs of the entire family, free from restraints of the law. The parties in mediation have all the power to reach a settlement and it is what they believe and determine to be fair and reasonable that matters, not what the mediator believes to be fair and reasonable.

 

If the parties reach an agreement through mediation, either on all or some issues, the mediator will draft a memorandum of understanding or settlement agreement which memorializes the settlement terms. The parties are encouraged to have independent attorneys draft or review the agreement on their behalf. Mediators cannot represent either party in court, and, therefore, cannot file a complaint for divorce on behalf of either or both parties.

 

Mediation may not be an appropriate means of dispute resolution if there is an imbalance of negotiating power between the parties, where there are psychological issues with one or both parties, subtle intimidation by one against the other, where there has been as history of domestic abuse, or for other disqualifying reasons.

 

Mediation is an excellent means of resolving disputes in most situations and can be far less expensive than the traditional litigation model. It can help the parties maintain an amicable relationship, craft a resolution that is best for their entire family, does not only address the present circumstances (which is all the court can do), but also looks forward and addresses the future. Statistics show that parties who mediate spend less money on their divorce, feel vested in the settlement, are far less likely to engage in litigation in the future, and enjoy a healthier relationship.

COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE

Collaborative Divorce  offers divorcing couples an alternative to litigation  based upon mutual problem solving. The parties and their collaboratively trained attorneys, along with other trained professionals involved (e.g., custody experts, forensic accountants, etc.) agree in writing to work together toward an agreement without litigating in court.

 

Collaborative Divorce  provides divorcing couples with a viable, meaningful, less contentious alternative to litigation which is all too often expensive, time consuming, inefficient, emotionally draining and devastating to families. It allows them to preserve the changing family unit.

 

The collaborative process can be used to assist parties who have other types of family law disputes other than divorce.

 

Gary Borger, Bruce Matez, Deena Betze, and Mary Cay Trace all have been trained in collaborative divorce and have continued to participate in advanced training annually.  Gary, Bruce and Deena are members (along with a small group of other South Jersey divorce attorneys, family therapists, and forensic accountants) of the South Jersey Collaborative Divorce Professionals (the first of its kind in the area) which is also known as BetterWayDivorce.com.

 

BorgerMatez offers Collaborative Divorce in addition to mediation as alternatives to traditional divorce litigation for its clients.

TRADITIONAL PROCESS

In those cases in which mediation, collaborative divorce, or other alternative means of dispute resolution are not viable options, spouses will litigate their divorce in the traditional manner. Typically, each will retain a lawyer to represent him/her and communication will occur between the attorneys by letter, phone or e-mail.

 

One spouse must file a complaint for divorce with the court and the other has various options for responding. The court will then enter a case management order directing how the parties are to exchange discovery (information and documentation), and scheduling the Matrimonial Early Settlement Panel, pre-trial conference dates and trial dates (in some counties).

 

Before or during the period of discovery, the spouses may also engage in “motion practice,” wherein one party may file an application (a notice of motion) with the court seeking specific relief such as support, parenting time with children, preservation of marital asserts or other orders of the court.

 

After all discovery is exchanged between the spouses, they will be required to attend the Matrimonial Early Settlement Panel (MESP). The attorneys will submit memoranda to the panelists prior to the MESP date. The panelists (two experienced family law attorneys) will review the memos prior to the MESP and meet with the attorneys only on the date of the MESP. After they have discussed the case and the attorneys have presented their arguments and positions, the panelists confer privately, then bring the attorneys back into the MESP room to deliver their recommendations as to how they believe the case should be resolved. The attorneys then meet with their individual clients to discuss the recommendations. If one or both parties do not accept the recommendations, the judge will schedule the case for trial. In most counties, after the MESP, the court will order the parties to attend post-MESP mandatory economic mediation which is required. Eventually, if the case is not resolved through mediation or negotiation, the case will be tried to conclusion and a judgment rendered by the judge.

 

Litigation is generally extremely costly and takes much longer than mediation or collaborative divorce.

 

The goal of the court is to have a case tried to conclusion and a judgment of divorce entered within one year of the date the complaint was filed.

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