LAWYERS IN JERSEY CITY, NJ HANDLING DIVORCE AND FAMILY LAW CASES
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THE IMPORTANCE OF THE EARLY SETTLEMENT PANEL AND ECONOMIC MEDIATION AND HAVING AN EXPERIENCED NEW JERSEY DIVORCE ATTORNEY
During a contested divorce case in New Jersey, there are many opportunities to settle your case before a trial starts. Two major opportunities to resolve your case come by way of the New Jersey Matrimonial Early Settlement Panel (MESP) and the Economic Mediation Process.
The Matrimonial Early Settlement Panel is where your attorney and your spouse attorney submit their clients position in the case and what they are seeking. Part of the submissions is the very important Case Information Statement (C.I.S.) that shows your expenses, assets, debts, weekly wages and so forth. This submission goes to a panel of attorneys ranging from 1 lawyer to 3 lawyers. The submission never goes to the Judge nor do any details of a potential settlement. The lawyers on the panel read the submissions, the clients’ attorneys argue over the merits of their clients’ positions and the panel asks questions. After that, the panel makes a non-binding recommendation to the parties. Many cases settle soon after the settlement conference. The early settlement panel is encouraged throughout the divorce and family courts in New Jersey because of the excellent panel members available to litigants who share their matrimonial experience with the spouses involved.
Those that do not settle, are ordered to attend economic mediation with a mediator from the mediators roster. Again, the attorneys make their submissions to the one attorney and the attorney tries to find a middle ground between the parties. The first 2 hours of the mediators time is free (usually one hour to review the submissions and one hour in the office). After that, the hourly rate of the mediator is used. If economic mediation fails, the parties must begin preparing for trial. A trial in a New Jersey Divorce Court is very time consuming because of the nature of the different aspects of each case and the fact that the divorce courts in New Jersey are extremely busy, making it harder for Judges to offer extended court times.
The early settlement panel does not offer settlement suggestions concerning child custody but only focuses on the economic issues in the case. By the time the early settlement panel comes along, your Family Part Case Information Statement will be filed with the court as will your spouses. Aside from that, the discovery process should be completed or close to being completed so that you have the right information to make an informed settlement or go to trial decision. Without discovery and relevant information, you cannot settle your case confidently. The discovery process is that important. For more information about discovery, please view our article about discovery in a New Jersey divorce here. For general information about the divorce process in New Jersey you can visit our New Jersey divorce information page here.
It is always best to control your own destiny and reach an agreement that both parties can live with, but sometimes that is just not possible. If you have a divorce case contact my team at the Artusa Law Firm today on 201-706-7910.