New Jersey Divorce Mediation Guide

new_jersey.jpgDespite its high taxes, congested roadways and gridlocked state government, New Jersey will always have a special place in our hearts.

It’s where we were both born and raised and where our divorce mediation practice was founded. For a decade, we’ve been privately helping NJ families avoid the destruction of attorney-driven divorces.

We enjoy practicing in New Jersey as it’s not only where we’re from and where we got started, but it’s also a “mediation first” state. Private mediators like us, judges, and even many lawyers - are all supportive of divorce mediation in New Jersey.

In fact, it’s rare that a divorce case ever gets into a courtroom for trial. It's estimated that only 2% of New Jersey divorces ever go to full litigation.

That confirms what we already know - mediation works!

New Jersey Office Locations & Online Divorce Mediation

NJ Divorce Mediation Locations.pngIn New Jersey, we meet with couples in the following locations:

1200 US-22, Bridgewater, NJ 08807 | (908) 864-2177

26 Park St, Montclair, NJ 07042 | (862) 245-2565

55 Madison Ave, Morristown, NJ 07960 | (973) 532-2308

Short Hills:
51 John F Kennedy Pkwy, Short Hills, NJ 07078 | (862) 206-3133

We can also meet with couples by appointment in Cherry Hill and Princeton.

If meeting with us face-to-face is challenging due to personal or professional demands, you or your spouse lives out of state, or you’re simply not located near one of our local locations, you can still work with us using our innovative online divorce mediation program.

If you and your spouse have agreed to divorce and you both want to mediate, book an initial meeting for the two of you.

book a mediation appointment

In this guide, you'll find information on:

  • How divorce mediation is conducted in New Jersey;
  • The issues that need to be resolved in a New Jersey divorce;
  • NJ divorce mediation resources;
  • How to get started mediating your NJ divorce with us.

How is Divorce Mediation in New Jersey Conducted?

In NJ, divorce mediation may be conducted privately or publicly, depending on whether you and your spouse choose to mediate first or hire attorneys first.

NJ Divorce Mediation.pngIf you take the preferred path and choose to mediate first, you would hire a private divorce mediation service like ours, typically before you file with the courts.

Together we would identify, discuss, negotiate and resolve all of the issues surrounding your divorce privately, confidentially and without the use of attorneys, if you so choose.

We’d draft up all of your agreements, gather the required forms, worksheets and discovery documents, and then send you to the filing phase where you’d complete your divorce through the courts.

On the other hand, if you choose to go the attorney route first, you'd likely be sent to court-ordered mediation.

Yes, you read that correctly – NJ has court-ordered mediation whereby you’ll be required to engage in custody and parenting time mediation and economic issue mediation which are both offered through the state.

And while we’re always supportive of couples who mediate, no matter what route they took to get there, there are a number of shortcomings with going the court-ordered mediation route:

  • First, you don’t get to choose your mediator like you would with private mediation. So you could end up with a mediator you don’t like, or you’re not comfortable working with.
  • Second, the mediators on the court roster may not be the most experienced. The only requirement to become a court-ordered mediator is to take a 40-hour divorce mediation training class. So many new mediators get their start mediating for the courts and have little or no "real-world" experience.
  • Finally, what if your issues are so complex that even if the mediator isn't fresh out of training, they aren’t experienced handling unique issues like yours? In that case, mediation will become a waste of time and now you’ll have to wait months for a court date. When you could have resolved all of your issues in private mediation long before that.

What are The Issues That Need to be Resolved in a NJ Divorce?

For couples with no children or grown children, there are two main issues that need to be resolved in a New Jersey divorce. For couples with minor children, there are four:

The Parenting Plan

Parenting Plans NJ.pngIn New Jersey, issues of parenting responsibilities and timesharing are agreed upon and drafted into the parenting plan.

The parenting plan covers all aspects of how you will co-parent your children once you’re divorced including where the children will spend nights, weekends, and holidays, as well as how you and your ex will engage in decision making on matters such as education, religion, and medical issues to name but a few.

Because there is very little guidance on how to create a balanced and effective parenting plan, the help of an experienced and professional mediator is critical in this very gray area.

To learn more about how parenting plans work and why they’re the most important issue you’ll face in your divorce, please read: Divorce with Kids: The Importance of a Good Parenting Plan.

Child Support

NJ Child Support.pngHere in the United States, all 50 states are required to have some sort of repeatable method for determining child support known as a child support guideline.

How child support is determined varies greatly state-by-state, and each state’s model produces a significantly different result. That’s why you must follow the New Jersey child support guidelines and not one from another state.

New Jersey uses something called the “income-shares” model which uses a number of factors to determine a basic child support amount, and allocates a portion of that amount to each parent. It is non-taxable, and the basic child support amount in NJ excludes a number of other “extraordinary expenses” such as college, and extracurricular activities, which must be negotiated separately.

Determining child support in New Jersey is not as simple as running a calculator and coming up with an amount, as there is a lot left out of the child support guidelines in NJ. That’s why it’s important to work with a mediator with a financial background - to ensure your children get the financial support they need and don’t become the economic victims of your divorce.

To learn more about how child support works in New Jersey, please read: Ensuring Your Children's Well-Being with Child Support in NJ.

Spousal Support

Spousal Support NJ.pngIn New Jersey, the payment of money from one ex-spouse to another is called spousal support.  Some states refer to this as alimony, maintenance or spousal maintenance.

Spousal support in NJ is the exact opposite of child support.

There is no guideline or repeatable method for determining it; it is to be used by the recipient spouse to assist with their expenses and not the children’s, and it is a taxable event.

If ever there was an issue that NJ couples fight over, it’s spousal support.

But just because there isn’t a guideline or other repeatable way to determine spousal support, it doesn’t mean all hope is lost. There are a number of ways we help New Jersey couples resolve this difficult and emotional issue, and have been doing so with great success for many years.

To learn more about how spousal support works in New Jersey, please read: Determining Alimony in New Jersey.

Equitable Distribution

Equitable Distribution NJ.pngEquitable distribution is the process by which divorcing couples divide their marital assets and liabilities. And is typically the last issue a mediating couple will need to discuss and resolve in their New Jersey divorce.

New Jersey is an equitable distribution state. Meaning couples can come to any agreement they find “fair and equitable” when it comes to dividing their marital assets and liabilities. NJ is not a community property state where assets and liabilities would be split 50-50.

And just like spousal support, there is very little in the way of determining what’s fair.

As you can imagine, if couples aren’t working with an experienced mediator with a financial background, this part of the divorce process can not only prove difficult, but costly, as there are a significant number of mistakes that can be made during this part of the process.

Determining what marital property is, what’s the difference between marital and pre-marital property, and what factors are taken into account when discussing equitable distribution all factor into the negotiations.

To learn more about how equitable distribution works in New Jersey, please read: Dividing Assets in Divorce (and Liabilities Too) in New Jersey.

Mediate Your New Jersey Divorce!

Mediation Smartest Way to Divorce in NJ.jpgWhether you work inside the home or outside of it, have minor children, grown children or are child-free, have been married a short time or have been together for many years, mediation is the smartest way to divorce in New Jersey.

Why mediate your NJ divorce with Equitable Mediation?

To get started, take the next step and book an initial meeting for you and your spouse.

book a mediation appointment


Or, if you're early in the process, learn how you benefit using mediation for your NJ divorce.

book a mediation appointment