This article is intended to give general information only. It is not intended to give legal advice to any person on a specific case or controversy, and does not create an attorney-client relationship.
Q. What is divorce mediation?
A. Divorce mediation is an alternative to costly and protracted divorce litigation. Most divorce cases involve the same issues: Child custody, parenting time, child support, alimony, and equitable distribution. Divorce mediation allows you to sit down with an experienced family law practitioner and work out these issues on your own, and not have a resolution imposed on you by the court. Divorce mediation allows you to work out your issues at your own pace. In court, you are bound by the Rules of Court, and must adhere to a strict time table in engaging in discovery and resolving your dispute. If you cannot resolve your dispute, the court will schedule a trial and make the decision for you. The goal of the mediation process is to allow people to reach a settlement which best meets their needs and the needs of their children.
Q. Do I need to have my own lawyer to participate in mediation?
A. No. However, the role of the mediator is to act as a neutral third party facilitator, and not to advocate on behalf of either party. A mediator will guide you through the mediation process and may answer general questions about divorce law. A mediator may suggest constructive options to resolve your particular dispute, but will not render a ?decision? about your case. The mediator?s job is to help you and your spouse reach a settlement on our own; and not to make a decision for you. During the mediation process, it may be helpful for you to consult an attorney about specific legal aspects of your case. And, in fact, some people may feel more comfortable to have an attorney represent them throughout the mediation process. But, you are not required to have an attorney, and if you choose to have any attorney, your legal fees are generally much lower than if your case were resolved through divorce litigation.
Q. Why divorce mediation?
A. There are three main advantages to divorce mediation over divorce litigation: (1) it is more cost effective, (2) it is less stressful, and (3) it leads to better outcomes.
Q. How is divorce mediation more cost effective?
A. As a divorce litigator, I estimate that 50% of my time on each divorce case is spent on non-productive activities, such as driving to and from court for court hearings, waiting around in court for the judge to come out on the bench, and waiting for the judge to hear and decide other cases on the court?s calendar. By contrast, each mediation session is scheduled specifically for your case. There is little or no waiting time, so you and your attorney (if you choose to have one) are not wasting your time and running up unnecessary legal fees. If you reach a divorce agreement through mediation, you can have your divorce finalized in as little as 60 days, and with only one short court hearing.
Q. Why is divorce mediation less stressful?
A. Divorce litigation is inherently adversarial. The combination of attorneys, judges, strict court rules and deadlines, and crowded court dockets lead to a process which intensifies emotions in an already stressful situation. Divorce mediation is designed to be cooperative. The mediator?s job is to help you and your spouse work out solutions on your own and at your own pace without the pressure of the court atmosphere or the feeling of being on a time schedule.
Q. How does divorce mediation lead to better outcomes?
A. Mediation generally leads to better outcomes because it is self-determined. The parties know what is best for them and their children. Courts and attorneys generally reach solutions which are rigid and mechanical. Through mediation, parties can reach settlements which best meets the unique needs of their family.
Q. Why choose Robert A. Loefflad, Esquire, as the divorce mediator for my family?
A. Mr. Loefflad has nearly 20 years of experience as a family law attorney. He has litigated numerous divorces, child custody disputes, domestic violence proceedings, removal cases, grandparent?s rights cases and alimony disputes. He is knowledgeable in the law and is sensitive to the emotional trauma of the typical divorce process. Mr. Loefflad prides himself on his ability to resolve disputes in a fair and efficient manner. He is a member of the New Jersey Association of Professional Mediators.
Q. How much does divorce mediation cost?
A. Mr. Loefflad offers a free 45 minute initial consultation to meet with the parties and explain the mediation process. Thereafter, he charges a fee of $200.00 per hour for his time in preparing for and conducting the divorce mediation. Each mediation session generally involves ½ hour of preparation time and 1 ½ hours of consultation time. Most divorce cases can be resolved within 4 or 5 sessions. So, most divorce mediations will cost about $2,000.00. If this fee is split between the parties, each party would pay about $1,000.00 for the mediation. Thereafter, you may incur additional legal fees and court costs to finalize your divorce, but, in most cases, these costs will be much, much lower than the traditional litigated divorce case.
Q. How can I get more information about divorce mediation?
A. You may call Mr. Loefflad at the law offices of Ford, Flower, Hasbrouck and Loefflad at (609) 653-1500, or send him an email at [email protected].
Before making your choice of a divorce mediator or attorney, you should give this matter careful thought. The selection of a divorce mediator or attorney is an important decision.