Divorce can be one of the most difficult experiences a person can go through, both emotionally and financially. In New Jersey, divorce proceedings can be especially complicated and stressful, but there is one tool that can help make the process a little smoother: Intensive Settlement Conferences.

Intensive Settlement Conferences (ISCs) are a form of alternative dispute resolution where a judge acts as a mediator between the two parties. The goal of an ISC is to help the parties reach a settlement agreement on all issues related to the divorce, including property division, alimony, child support, and custody. This is done in a single day, or in some cases, over two days, with the goal of reducing the time, expense, and emotional stress of going through a traditional court trial.

So, how do ISCs work, and what is their impact on the divorce process in New Jersey?

First, let’s talk about the logistics. An ISC is usually held in a conference room, not a courtroom. Each party is accompanied by their attorney, and the judge-mediator facilitates the discussion. The parties are encouraged to negotiate and compromise with the guidance of the mediator, who helps them explore the pros and cons of various options.

One of the benefits of an ISC is that it can be a much quicker process than a trial. In a traditional court trial, it can take months, or even years, to reach a final decision. In contrast, an ISC can usually be completed in a day or two. This can save both parties a lot of time and money, as well as spare them the emotional toll of a prolonged legal battle.

Another benefit of ISCs is that they are generally less formal and confrontational than a traditional court trial. Instead of each party presenting their case to a judge, the parties are encouraged to work together to find a mutually agreeable solution. This can be especially helpful for divorcing couples who want to maintain a cordial relationship after the divorce, particularly if they have children together.

Of course, ISCs are not a perfect solution. They may not be appropriate for all cases, particularly those where one or both parties are not willing to compromise. In addition, the settlement agreement reached during an ISC is not binding until it is signed by both parties and the judge.

However, despite these limitations, ISCs are a valuable tool for couples going through a divorce in New Jersey. They can help reduce the emotional and financial strain of the divorce process, while also promoting a more cooperative and respectful relationship between the parties. If you are considering a divorce in New Jersey, it is worth discussing the possibility of an ISC with your attorney. It may be just the solution you need to move forward with your life.