If you are getting divorced, you will have the option to settle your case, without the need for a trial. You can certainly opt to resolve all the issues in your divorce by mutual agreements of the parties, and hopefully you and your spouse are on good enough terms to do that. But that is not often the case.

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)

When parties have genuine arguments or disagreements, they will need to go to a full blown family law case—but before they get to a full trial, they will have to do what is known as alternative dispute resolution (ADR). Although there are all kinds of ADR methods, the one most commonly used is mediation—if you were previously divorced, you likely had a mediation.

But what role does mediation have, after the parties are already divorced, and there is a dispute or problem or change that comes up, after the divorce is finalized?

If you can settle your original divorce case with a marital settlement agreement, you may have a decision to make: If you have a dispute later, after your divorce is finalized and the marital settlement agreement is agreed to, should you require the parties to go to mediation, before they are allowed to ask the court for help or relief?

In other words, should mediation be a prerequisite to filing any action to enforce or interpret or change the marital settlement agreement? The ultimate decision is up to you, based on what your attorney advises, but there are pros and cons to both approaches.

Requiring Mediation

One benefit of requiring mediation before anybody can go to court to enforce the settlement or try to change it, is that you can save significant costs and legal fees. A mediation is much cheaper than full blown contested litigation.

The mediation gives you the opportunity to resolve matters quickly at only moderate expense. Of course, if the mediation is unsuccessful-if you cannot settle the case—you’ll still end up in court, but at least you have given yourself the chance to resolve the matter early-and perhaps in a way that benefits both parties.

Mediation can also let you know what the other side, your ex-spouse, will say, should the matter go to court.

Drawbacks of Mediation

One negative of mediation, is that if the mediation is unsuccessful, you have made the process more expensive. The process of modification or enforcement also becomes slower—you cannot rush to court, but rather, you now need to coordinate a mediation first.

It may also be easier for an upset spouse to threaten mediation, or force you to go to it. An upset spouse may not want to spend the money to go to court for every minor thing, but they may well be willing to require you to mediate, given mediation’s moderate costs, even for minor disagreements.

Contact our New Jersey family law and alimony attorneys at The Law Office of Agnes Rybar LLC today to help you with your settlement agreements.





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