Court-Ordered Economic Mediation
If you didn’t settle the case at the Early Settlement Panel, then (absent restraining orders in place/domestic violence issues), in most counties, you will be assigned mandatory economic mediation. The Court will provide a list of mediators (generally attorneys with mediation experience). Both parties and their attorneys will then be required to meet with the mediators to try and resolve the financial issues between the parties.
Under the New Jersey Court Rules, the mediator’s first two (2) hours are volunteered and thus not billed. After that, if the parties wish to continue mediation, the mediator will bill at his or her regular rate.
The Economic mediation is another attempt by the Court system to dispose of your case without using a great deal of judicial resources. There are simply not enough judges or court personnel in many counties. Settlement is, therefore, always encouraged. The next step in the process, the Intensive Settlement Conference is also the product of that necessity.
Intensive Settlement Conference
Here we are, at the precipice of trial. This is the last attempt to settle before intensive trial preparations begin. This is our “Custard’s last stand.” In the vast majority of cases, a full (or even partial) trial will make little or no financial sense. The attorney and expert costs will be greater than could be gained.
The intensive settlement is basically a lock-in. The parties and their attorneys are required to come to Court and stay there all day. They can either leave when they settle the case or the day is over. If an Agreement is not reached, then the assumption is trial, although an Agreement can be worked out at any time, including during a trial.
By the time you’re at an intensive settlement conference, you should be very close to settling the case. If not, then it’s likely onto a trial.
I truly believe that it is, far more often than not, preferable to settle. A settlement will likely mean compromising some of what you want or think you deserve, but at least it provides certainty and closure: two things that should not be overlooked or underestimated.
Remember that every case is different and the above does not constitute legal advise. Laws and rules are always changing, and you should seek out professional assistance to see how your specific case should be handed. The above is simply general information.
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If you’re considering a New Jersey divorce or Family Law action contact me to discuss your options. You can schedule an initial consultation by calling my office at 908-237-3096 or by scheduling your own divorce consultation online by clicking here.