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Frequently Asked Question About the Family Mediation Program

What is the Mediator’s role?

Family mediation is a confidential process in which parents meet with a Family Mediator (a neutral third party) who helps them develop a custody and parenting time plan, which includes child custody and the time parents spend with their children (visitation). The mediator guides the process, facilitates discussion, manages conflict, looks for common interests and may suggest creative solutions. The mediator assists the parties in working out their own plan but does not make decisions for them. If they reach an agreement, it will reflect decisions made by the parents in their child’s best interest. Afterward, the mediator will prepare the agreement and send it to the parties and their attorneys.

Who participates in Family Mediation?

The parents and family mediator participate in the mediation process. Attorneys are not required to attend and children do not usually attend nor participate.

Where does the mediation take place?

Please note that the mediation takes place at 212 Washington Street, Room 1069, 10th floor, Newark, NJ.

Is mediation confidential?

The mediation process is confidential. Generally, there are two exceptions to this rule. The mediator may violate the confidentiality privilege if either parent alleges abuse or neglect of a child or to prevent a parent from committing an illegal act likely to result in death or serious bodily harm. The court rule provides that a mediator may not participate in any support hearing or a trial of the mediated issues or appear as a witness for either parent.

Is my attendance at mediation mandatory?

The first mediation session is mandatory under the court rule. Additional sessions may be scheduled but are not necessary.

What if I have a temporary or final restraining order (TRO/FRO)?

The court rule provides that cases that have a final or temporary restraining order are not appropriate for mediation.

Does my attorney need to attend the mediation session?

Attorneys do not need to attend. Any agreements reached by the parties are reviewed by the attorneys who are required to forward the final agreement to the court.

What happens if we are able to develop a parenting plan in mediation?

If parents are able to resolve their issues and reach an agreement, the mediator will draft the agreement. Parents and their attorneys will be provided with a copy and are given an adequate opportunity to review the agreement to determine that it accurately reflects their wishes. If parents and their attorneys are satisfied that the agreement is accurate, the attorney will incorporate the agreement into a Consent Order which the judge will sign. This Consent Order will be legally binding on both parties.

What if we are unable to resolve our parenting dispute in mediation?

If mediation does not resolve the issues, the mediator notifies the Court that “the parties were unable to resolve their issues in mediation”. At that point, the attorneys may schedule a hearing or trial to resolve the custody matter and develop a parenting plan.

Who should I contact if I have any other questions about Family Mediation?

Please contact the program at (973) 776-9300 ext. 57008.

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