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Mediation is an alternative to litigation. The parties work with a mediator to reach resolution on all issues in their case such as custody, parenting time, child support, alimony and distribution of their assets and debt. The mediator does not represent either party, but works to facilitate an agreement between both parties. The parties may still have attorneys to give them individual advice.

The parties will work on their budgets, review financial documents such as paystubs, tax returns, etc. If necessary, experts such as a psychologist, accountant or real estate appraiser will be hired by the parties.

When done, the mediator prepares what is called a Memorandum of Understanding. It is not a legally binding contract. The Memorandum of Understanding is merely a letter outlining the proposals to which the parties agreed. Typically, the parties bring the Memorandum of Understanding to their respective attorneys. One of the attorneys converts the Memorandum of Understanding into a legally binding contract called a Marital Settlement Agreement. One of the attorneys will also file the formal documents with the court to get the parties divorced.

Mediation is usually far less costly than a litigated divorce. Mediation also typically takes a lot less time than a litigated divorce. Mediation is not regulated by the State of New Jersey. Anyone can claim to be a mediator. You may want to look into the credentials and experience of the professional to whom you are entrusting such important issues.

If you are interested in mediation or have any further questions, do not hesitate to contact the mediators, who are both accredited by the New Jersey Association of Professional Mediators and experienced matrimonial attorneys, at Iandoli & Edens at (908) 879-9499.

One of the most frequently asked questions from a person considering divorce is “How long will it take until I am divorced?

Unfortunately this is also one of the most difficult questions to answer.  Every case if different, every couple is different and every Court calendar is different.  These are all factors that can affect the timing of a divorce.

The first step in moving forward with a Divorce is filing a Complaint for Divorce.  Once you sign the Complaint, it is forwarded to the Court for filing.  This process usually takes between two to three weeks.  After your Complaint has been filed with the Court, you then must serve your spouse with a filed copy.  After your spouse receives the Complaint, he or she then has 35 days to file a response with the Court and must furnish a copy to you.

After your spouse files a response, the Court will schedule a Case Management Conference within 2-3 months.  At this conference a time line for your case will be established, including deadlines for the exchange of information.  At that time the Court also issues a date for the next Court appearance, the Early Settlement Panel (ESP).  The ESP typically takes place two to three months after the Case Management Conference.

After the ESP, if your case has not settled, you will be required to attend Economic Mediation.  The mediation is typically at the mediator’s office and scheduling depends upon the availability of each party’s attorney as well as the mediator.  Most often the economic mediation will occur within a month or two after the ESP.

Following Economic Mediation, your case will then be scheduled for an Intensive Settlement Conference.  This usually occurs within one to two months after the mediation.  However, please note, some Courts have different procedures and the Intensive Settlement Conference may happen at different times.  It is also possible that your case could be scheduled for multiple settlement conferences.

If, after all of these steps your case is not settled, you will be scheduled for a trial.  Depending on the Court’s calendar, your trial could be scheduled within the same year you file your Complaint for Divorce or it could be scheduled sometime within the following year.

If your case is bitterly contested and there is no chance for settlement, this outline describes all of the steps that will be taken in your divorce.  It also sets out a fairly accurate timetable.

However, as previously stated, every case is different and every divorcing couple is different.  If you and your spouse are able to agree upon the terms of your divorce it could be finalized within months.  If you and your spouse come to an agreement about all of the issues in your case you could then be divorced within weeks, no matter what step in the process you are at.

There is no standard timeframe in which a divorce will be finalized and every case is finalized at a different point.  Willingness of both parties to compromise is perhaps the largest factor in determining how quickly you can finalize your divorce.

If you have questions about Divorce or the process involved, please contact our office today.  (908) 879-9444 or visit our website

Alimony is a support payment from one spouse to the other.  There are tax implications for both parties.  When one spouse earns significantly more than the other spouse and the other spouse needs support in order to maintain the marital lifestyle, the case may be appropriate for an alimony award.

Usually both parties are expected to work to their best ability.  Alimony is more likely to be paid in cases where there is a gross disparity in the incomes of both parties.

The New Jersey statute dealing with alimony lists approximately 10 factors which should be considered when deciding whether or not alimony should be paid.  Some of these factors are the actual needs of a party and the other party’s ability to pay, the duration of the marriage, etc.  However, there are no charts or formulas which can readily be used to ascertain whether or not alimony is paid and, if so, how much or for how long a period of time.  Even if it is determined that alimony is appropriate in any given case, it must also be determined how much alimony should be paid and for how long a period of time the alimony should be paid.  Should the alimony amount change at any given point, for example, when a spouse is capable of returning to work because the children are in school full time?  Should the alimony change if the party who is receiving the alimony starts living with another, or remarries?  Most parties are able to negotiate these issues.  If they cannot, there will be a trial and a judge will decide.

To assist you with any of these issues, feel free to call one of the experienced matrimonial attorneys at Iandoli & Edens at (908) 879‑9499.

Have you heard the acronym MSA tossed about? Have you wondered what on earth is this document and why does it sound so crucial to your divorce?  Well, in short, it’s your divorce agreement or what is called in family law your Marital Settlement Agreement.

Entering into an MSA means that you and your spouse have settled your divorce issues and there is no longer a need for a Trial. Instead, an Uncontested Divorce Hearing takes place where your divorce becomes final.  Most litigants view settlement as a viable option but it does not come without patience, negotiation and compromise. This is especially true when disputes over children exist.

Entering into an MSA with the advice of an attorney may be the best option for you.  In fact, most celebrities choose this route so that they can avoid the spotlight of a trial.

It is wise to make the MSA as comprehensive as possible. For example, if you are aware that situations will change you may address that contemplated situation within the MSA. In New Jersey, the MSA is incorporated into your Judgment of Divorce and is given the same treatment as any other court order.

If you have concerns about a settlement agreement that your spouse has drafted or you wish to submit a settlement agreement to your spouse, please call us at (908) 879-9499.

Ever wonder if you would be able to keep your engagement ring if you got a divorce?  In some cases, an engagement ring may be one of the most valuable assets a person owns and perhaps one of the most sentimental. The engagement ring has a special significance to each spouse.  However, the sentimental nature of the ring may create an additional dispute at the time the parties move forward with a divorce. This is especially true when there are few assets to divide, there is significant debt and salaries have been reduced.

What if the engagement is called off immediately before the wedding? Who gets the ring?  Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck called off their engagement just hours before their wedding.  Under New Jersey law Jennifer would not be entitled to keep the ring because the wedding did not happen.  However, those individuals that do not cancel their wedding, such as Chelsea Clinton, will be able to keep their ring after divorce.

The courts of the New Jersey view the engagement ring as a conditional gift.  In other words, the ring should be returned when the engagement is broken. Once the parties marry, the condition of the gift has been met and the engagement ring generally becomes the sole property of the recipient unless there is a written pre-nuptial agreement that states otherwise.

Earlier this month, news broke that Melissa Etheridge filed Court documents seeking to end her nine year partnership to Wife, Tammy Lynn Michaels.  Earlier in the year, a news story from Texas seemed to indicate that a gay couple could not get divorced in Texas because Texas does not recognize gay marriage or civil unions.  With so much conflict among the states regarding this issue, it is difficult to know what rights same sex couples have.

Effective February 19, 2007, the New Jersey Legislature amended the marriage statute to include same sex couples.  However, the statute which was enacted chose to call the relationship a civil union rather than a marriage.  The State of New Jersey has defined a civil union as a legally recognized union of two eligible individuals of the same sex.  In order to be eligible for a civil union, the parties must show that they are not a party to another civil union, domestic partnership or marriage in the state; they must be of the same sex and be at least 18 years old. 

As enacted, the statute grants all of the same benefits, protections and responsibilities as are granted to spouses in a marriage, to partners in a civil union.  Parties who enter into a civil union are able to enter into Pre-Nuptial Agreements, receive inheritance from their partner, receive medical benefits through their partner and adopt children together.

With all of the benefits of marriage, also comes the ability to dissolve a civil union, just like a divorce.  The procedure for the dissolution of a civil union is the same as a divorce.  However, the Legislature has chosen to enact a separate statute setting forth the grounds for the dissolution of a civil union. 

If you are considering entering into or dissolving a civil union, contact our office to see how we can assist you.

        Jesse James, Tiger Woods, Senator John Edwards – what do they all have in common? 

        Accusations of adultery make the headlines but what does it mean in a divorce?  Generally, in New Jersey adultery is sexual intercourse between a married person and a person not the husband or wife of that person.  In New Jersey, you don’t get a divorce just because you want one.  You have to allege and prove one of the grounds for divorce.  Adultery is one of several grounds for divorce.  If you can prove that adultery occurred, you will be entitled to a divorce.  However, for the most part, proving adultery as opposed to any of the other grounds for divorce will probably not affect the finances in the divorce when it comes to alimony and equitable distribution.  In New Jersey, when it comes to alimony, the Court is to consider approximately 9 factors and any other facts relevant to the particular case.  None of the 9 factors consist of proving adultery.  In New Jersey, the statute for the equitable distribution of property lists approximately 14 factors and the last item is any other factor relevant to the particular case.  Again, none of the 14 factors consist of proving adultery.  Even when it comes to custody, assuming the adultery was discreet, alleging a ground for adultery may not necessarily affect custody.  While adultery is a factor to be considered, it does not automatically entitle one to receive more alimony or pay less alimony or to receive a greater or lesser amount of the distribution of the assets acquired during the marriage unless of course a pre-nuptial agreement provides otherwise.  Depending on the facts in the case, adultery may not even affect custody. 

        You can learn how adultery affects your case by calling us at (908) 879‑9499.

In recent months, there has been tremendous speculation in the news regarding the terms of Tiger Woods’ Pre-Nuptial Agreement and how Elin will fair in the divorce.  However, few people understand what a Pre-Nuptial Agreement is and how it effects divorce litigation.  Perhaps even fewer people know that Pre-Nuptial Agreements are not just for the rich and famous and can be used by anyone contemplating marriage.

A Pre-Nuptial Agreement is an agreement made between prospective spouses in contemplation of their marriage.  The purpose of the agreement is to define the interests, rights and obligations of each spouse prior to the marriage.  These agreements can define anything from how the marital living expenses will be paid to how the parties will file their taxes.

However, most often, parties enter into Pre-Nuptial Agreements in order to set forth each party’s rights and obligations in the event of their separation or Divorce.  If the Pre-Nuptial Agreement is drafted properly, it could help the parties avoid difficult and costly divorce litigation.  Typically the issues of property distribution and spousal support are detailed in a Pre-Nuptial Agreement.  One of the benefits of a Pre-Nuptial Agreement is that parties can preserve their pre-marital assets.  Another important benefit of a Pre-Nuptial Agreement may be to deal with end of life issues.  Perhaps the most talked about case dealing with this issue is that of Anna Nicole Smith and her marriage to billionaire J. Howard Marshall.  However, there are many famous people that should enter into Pre-Nuptial Agreements but do not. It is curious whether Chelsea Clinton signed a Pre-Nuptial Agreement prior to her marriage.

The terms of each Pre-Nuptial Agreement vary depending on the parties and their respective situations.  To determine if a Pre-Nuptial Agreement is right for you and your prospective spouse, call our office for an appointment.  (908) 879-9499

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