In a high-asset divorce, property division can present many complex issues. If you and your soon-to-be-ex find yourselves unable to come to an agreement, consider taking contentious issues to mediation.
For many, mediation can offer a number of advantages over traditional litigation. New Jersey courts may order parties to attend at least one session, or parties may choose mediation voluntarily. However, every case is different, so be sure to discuss your situation with a qualified attorney who is proficient in handling high-asset matters in a mediation context.
How it works
Mediation takes place before a trained mediator. Ideally, this person should possess both familiarity with relevant law and great communication skills. The mediator's main job is to facilitate negotiations between the parties in a way that scales down conflict and helps the parties work towards resolution. While the mediator may recommend solutions, it is up to the parties whether they want to accept these recommendations.
Having a neutral party as a go-between can help divorcing spouses dial down on negative emotions that often run high during this stressful time, leaving them free to focus on constructive negotiation. This aspect can play a particularly important role if children are in the picture. The collaborative approach of mediation can help preserve the functional relationship the two of you will need as you continue to parent in the coming years.
Many people also find mediation less costly and time-consuming than the litigation process. Mediation does away with many of the formalities typically involved in litigation. However, you should still expect some production of information, including financial records. You may also need the assistance of a professional to properly valuate certain assets.
The role of a lawyer
You can, and should, have the assistance of your attorney throughout mediation. The mediator cannot give you legal advice and must treat both parties equally. You need someone on your side who can give you detailed information and advice about potential solutions that are put on the table.
When mediation can work against you
Because the mediator has no authority to compel either party to do anything, successful mediation depends on both parties working in good faith. If one party acts deceitfully, hides assets or attempts some other form of manipulation, mediation may not be a good idea.