While many couples going through a divorce would prefer a quick and amicable separation, the truth of the matter is in this day and age there are a lot of factors that need to be considered. To get a better handle on how these situations can be addressed, we asked some of South Jersey’s leading attorneys to share some insight and expertise about some of the issues that may arise during divorce proceedings.
How have prenuptial agreements changed in recent years and have they become more commonplace?
Many people are choosing to sign prenuptial agreements especially if their first marriage occurs after their career is established and assets have been accumulated, or if they are getting married for the second time. The desire to protect separate assets and to minimize disputes—and corresponding litigation expenses—if the marriage does not work out are the typical driving forces behind the preparation of a prenuptial agreement.
Stephanie J. Zane, partner, Archer Law
Are clients more educated these days on divorce proceedings and how they'd like to approach the matter?
Everyone has access to the internet and can Google any legal subject There are numerous attorney blogs and information clients can find instantly online. So clients can read up on the law and see how issues are handled. And everyone knows somebody who has either been divorced or separated or who has been subjected to domestic violence. So clients will often have a friend or family member that has told them what they went through. Clients get a lot of information before their first meeting, so this has been a dramatic change that didn’t exist three decades ago.
Kathleen P. Stockton, owner Stockton Family Law
How and why has mediation become more prevalent these days and what makes it the right decision for some and not for others?
The public in general is more educated to mediation being a viable solution and choice for divorce. Compared to litigation, mediation substantially saves money and time while the outcome remains in control of the parties involved. Further, mediation focuses on the decisions and steps to move toward the future rather than dwelling on the past. This is particularly beneficial when children are involved. Mediation requires a safe environment so if one party feels threatened or has been subjected to violence or the threat of violence, it is not possible to mediate as there needs to be a balance of power between the parties.
With mediation, parties have a much greater say in negotiations and greater control over the outcome. Can you explain why this is?
The role of the mediator is to facilitate a mutually acceptable outcome for the parties involved. Paramount to this, the mediator takes great care in empowering all parties, making sure they are sufficiently informed and educated during the mediation process to allow them to make the necessary decisions while understanding the full impact of those decisions. Mediation takes into account the unique and specific circumstance of each couple and their children so the decisions are facilitated and tailored to those needs. When parties engage attorneys to represent them, the attorneys are leading the negotiations instead of the parties themselves.
Roseann Vanella and Carmela DeNicola, co-owners, Advanced Mediation Solutions
Published (and copyrighted) in Suburban Family Magazine, Volume 13, Issue 1.
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