Mediation is a way of getting your divorce over more quickly, less expensively, and in a way that allows everybody — both spouses and children — to go on with their lives much more quickly and easily. It’s a way of collaborating, getting win-win solutions, rather than the zero-sum gain of divorce litigation. A mediator looks at the divorce from the perspective of the entire family: “How can everybody go one with their lives as quickly as possible, in a way that allows everybody to go one with their lives?” People often ask me, when they are not sure whether or not to mediate, whether or not they should try it. My response is that there is nothing lost if you try it. One of the advantages of mediation is that you are there voluntarily. If you decide you want to proceed in another way, you are always free to do that. But, once you started litigating a divorce, it’s really hard to go in another direction. The practice of divorce mediation in New Jersey, however, is unregulated, which means someone can claim to be a mediator, and have no training or experience. So be careful about how you choose your mediator. You want to find somebody who’s been doing it for a long time, someone who has training in reputable institutions. You want to find somebody who has mediated literally hundreds of cases. Those are the kinds of questions to ask a perspective mediator before you decide to use his or her services.
Douglas Schoenberg is an accredited divorce mediator (NJPAM), attorney, practitioner member of the Academy of Family Mediators in Summit, NJ.