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In recent years, divorce mediation has become an increasingly preferred option for spouses who want to get a divorce without having to go through the combative and costly litigation process. But a recent directive will make the mediation process even easier. New Jersey Family Court Directive 18-20 is titled Entry of Default and Uncontested Dissolution Judgments Without Personal Appearances. This directive allows New Jersey divorces to be completed without a personal appearance in court in the following two circumstances:

  • Default cases in which one spouse has filed for divorce or termination and the other spouse has not responded (after being properly notified); and
  • Uncontested divorces in which both spouses want the divorce or termination and they both agree on all issues between them.

This is a major development within the NJ family courts, because it allows divorces or terminations that are done through mediation to be finalized without the need for a personal court appearance. Under the previous rules, the “plaintiff” in a mediated divorce (the spouse who officially files the divorce complaint) had to appear in court after the mediation sessions were completed to get the final judgment approved. 

Since the COVID-19 outbreak, these non-emergency court appearances in New Jersey have been done through Zoom videoconferences. With this new directive, an appearance is no longer required as long as it is a default or uncontested divorce. 

Are Mediated Divorces Uncontested?

The short answer to that question is absolutely “yes”. You might enter divorce mediation disagreeing with your spouse on some issues, and you may even have some fairly large disagreements. When mediation is complete, you will have a final settlement at the end of the process that both of you agree on. 

Along the way, it might require up to a handful of sessions for you and your spouse to work out your differences. However, as long as both of you are able and willing to work together in good faith and compromise on some things, there is a 99.9% chance of that divorce mediation will produce a workable agreement. 

If you and your spouse are able to use mediation to settle your divorce, your marriage can be dissolved at a fraction of what it would cost to battle it out in court. The process is also private and confidential, and unlike a litigated divorce, what is said during the mediation sessions stays between participants and does not become part of the public court record.

As New Jersey and the rest of America continues to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, the ability to mediate a divorce and not make a court appearance can allow couples to complete the process much more quickly. Right now, for couples who are in the middle of litigation or looking to litigate, there is a significant backlog in cases, and going this route is going to take even longer than it usually does.

In the midst of coronavirus outbreak, Directive 18 – 20 has made divorce mediation is an even more attractive option, because the timing of the process from start to finish will now be greatly reduced. As summer is just getting started, this is especially helpful for couples who want to complete their divorce before the school year starts next fall.

AMS Provides “Touchless” Divorce Mediation

COVID-19 has changed our society in numerous ways, and most of us now offer virtual solutions when possible to help maintain social distancing guidelines and slow the spread of the virus. At Advanced Mediation Solutions (AMS), we have provided virtual mediation via teleconferencing or videoconferencing for several years now, and we are well equipped to conduct divorce mediation in any way that you feel comfortable. Under the new state guidelines we are also taking in person appointments for mediation while maintaining social distance.

We are currently making it even easier for you by offering extended hours to help accommodate those who have experienced major schedule disruptions because of the pandemic. Our initial consultations are free, and we are ready to help whenever you need us. To get started, message us online or contact us today at (856) 669-7172. We look forward to serving you!

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