The first session of divorce mediation is an introduction to the process. At Westfield Mediation, LLC we use this time to explain the divorce process in New Jersey (including the difference between a contested and uncontested divorce), how divorce mediation works and our practice’s approach to mediation.
For potential clients, it is an opportunity to present the facts about their situation and ask any questions. While there is no commitment required, sometimes clients use the time as their first step in divorce mediation and start planning for later sessions. Other divorcing couples use the intro session solely for information gathering and deciding if divorce mediation is the right path for them, and if it is, whether this is the right time to move forward.
To get the most out of the first session, clients should consider beforehand whether they have any questions and what are the key issues for them. Participating actively in this meeting will make it the most worthwhile. For example, they may want to know what the options are for selling or keeping their home. Clients also often have concerns about alimony – how it is calculated and what is required. If they have specific problems that have already arisen - for example, one partner is spending all the joint monies or has mental health issues that interfere with their ability to parent, or one party has immigration concerns that will be impacted by divorce - this session is a great place to discuss these topics and start developing plans to address them.
Sometimes, clients decide to continue divorce mediation while working through their outside issues. For example, they may decide to place their home on the market while in mediation. Other times, they feel it makes more sense for them to create a more stable set-up at home before moving forward. There is no set timetable to mediation, so there is a lot of flexibility for deciding how to proceed. Clients can take a break from the process at any time, and then return whenever they feel ready to move forward.