For many couples, divorce is the option chosen when all other avenues for saving a marriage have failed. The couples may have tried couples counseling, individual counseling, time apart — none of which worked. The decision to move forward with divorce may be a joint decision, and one that is reached following a good-faith effort by both parties to resolve matters. In these situations, couples may be able to reach a divorce settlement without the involvement of the court or hefty legal fees.
Mediation, Collaborative Divorce, or Trial in New Jersey?
For couples like the ones outlined above, mediation or collaborative divorce may be a very successful method for ironing out the few disagreements between the spouses regarding property division or custody.
However, for some couples, getting together to hash out their differences in good faith just may not be realistic. There are several scenarios where mediation or collaborative divorce are simply not options:
- The couple tried joint counseling sessions but neither were able to communicate in a constructive manner. For some couples, their relationship is at a point where even a skilled, neutral third party cannot bring the individuals together to find common ground. Whether because one or both are simply unwilling to reasonably discuss issues or whether it stems for a naturally-confrontational manner, couples in these situations may not benefit from the services of a mediator.
- One of the spouses abused the other spouse. Abuse, whether verbal or physical, creates a toxic environment in which no dialogue can succeed. The abused spouse may have no desire to be near the abuser, or may fear for their safety. They may also feel pushed into taking whatever is offered by the abuser out of fear of retribution. Regardless, where abuse was involved, mediation is unlikely to work.
- The couple disagrees on major issues such as child custody and visitation. Some matters simply require the intervention of the court to render a judgment based on the law and the facts presented. Issues like custody, visitation and property rights are matters that can be settled in mediation, but many times spouses are not willing to grant concessions to the other on these matters.
Mediation Not An Option? Time for Trial
The commonly-cited statistic is that 95 percent of lawsuits are settled before they reach trial. That statistic holds true for divorces. However, 95 percent is not 100 percent, meaning that some divorces do go to trial. The most important thing for a spouse to remember is that just because you are unable to settle does not mean that your divorce is a failure. As noted above, there are simply certain situations that cannot be settled.
If trial becomes necessary, it is important that your New Jersey divorce attorney has experience litigating divorce matters before a judge. Once the matter goes to trial, it is almost certain to be contentious and combative. However, there are steps you can take with your attorney prior to trial that will give you the best chance of prevailing:
- Be completely forthcoming and honest with your attorney. Do not leave out any detail, no matter how small or inconsequential it may seem to you. The worst thing that can happen is for your attorney to be surprised by some fact in the middle of your divorce trial. The better prepared they are for trial, the better your chances at success.
- Make sure that your spouse does not have access to any of your personal accounts, such as banking and emails. If your spouse has your password for your accounts, change your passwords. You do not want your spouse (and by extension, his or her attorney) having access to your correspondence with your attorney or your close friends.
- Follow the advice of your attorney. Many individuals simply cannot believe that the advice and direction being provided by their attorney is best. Crazy, we know! However, an experienced New Jersey divorce attorney will want to have control over as many variables as possible during a trial, and your conduct and answers are part of the things he or she can control. Listen and heed his or her advice.
Contact a Livingston Family Law Attorney for a Consultation About Your Divorce Options in New Jersey Today
If you are thinking about filing for divorce, or if you have already started the divorce process and are dealing with another matter such as child custody, child support, or division of assets, you need to speak with a qualified attorney. The NJ family law attorneys at Nitti & Nitti Attorneys at Law represent clients throughout the state, including Caldwell, Millburn, Maplewood, and South Orange. We understand how challenging this time can be for you, which is why we will fight hard to protect your interests, and the interests of your loved ones, throughout the legal process.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.