Stephanie Zane, Chair of Archer’s Family Law Group, was recently interviewed by New Jersey Law Journal’s Charles Toutant. The article, “It’s a Bad Time to Get Divorced in New Jersey: More Litigants Try ADR,” is centered around their conversation, which focused on the negative and positives of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mediation.
Stephanie acknowledges in the article that only a few matrimonial cases actually make it to trial due to the “matrimonial early settlement panel” that New Jersey requires couples to appear in front of before proceeding to divorce trial, but most don’t settle right away. Stephanie said the panel would typically create a “sweet spot” that caused clients to “awaken” and settle their case, knowing that trial was approaching. This is no longer the case due to court dates being back logged into 2025. Stephanie is quoted stating, “Now the pressure of knowing that a trial was coming has been lost due to the moratorium and the backlog. And so, you know, cases are taking longer and the seriousness of the process has been lost, in my opinion.”
Stephanie acknowledges that mediation isn’t always the appropriate route for divorcing couples. She states, “Mediation really only works if the playing fields are at least relatively equal with regard to what information the parties have… So if you go into mediation and one client has absolutely no information about the financial circumstances of their household, the lawyers are able to kind of parse through what we need. We can get the information that’s necessary so that we can even that playing field and get both parties the opportunity to feel like they’re on equal footing and making the decisions.”
She lastly acknowledges that ADR is cheaper than divorce trial in New Jersey, even with the added cost of obtaining a mediator. “In the long run, it’s absolutely my opinion that the mediation process is much less costly than the litigation process. Remember, if you’re getting to trial, your case has already been pending for a long time,” Stephanie said.
To read the article, click here.