For divorcing couples in New Jersey, the Early Settlement Panel (ESP) is a form of alternative dispute resolution. It gives couples the opportunity to determine the financial terms of their divorce settlements without having to go through the lengthy, expensive process of litigation.
Many couples find divorcing through alternative dispute resolution to be an empowering experience. Unlike litigation, where the partners have little to no control over their divorce’s proceeding, alternative dispute resolution methods put the divorcing couple in control. To learn more about the early settlement panel and determine if it could be right for you, discuss it with your divorce attorney.
When a couple goes before the early settlement panel for a hearing, each party presents his or her case to the panel. The panel is made up of a team of family attorneys who can weigh the couple’s needs to determine an appropriate divorce settlement for them. After each party has given his or her testimony, the panel confers to make a recommendation for the case.
Once they have reached an agreement, the panel presents their recommendation to the couple based on the facts presented and applicable New Jersey law. Couples are not legally bound to the panel’s decision – it is merely a recommendation for them. If a couple does not agree with the panel’s recommendation, they may reject the recommendation and go to court to settle their case. If the couple does agree with the panel’s recommendation for them, they work with their attorneys to finalize the divorce according to the terms contained within.
It is important to remember that the early settlement panel does not make recommendations for child custody and parenting time agreements. It only handles the financial aspects of a divorce: alimony, child support, and property division. If you are a parent, you will need to work with your county’s Superior Court Family Division to determine an appropriate custody schedule for your child.
Divorcing through alternative dispute resolution can make your divorce relatively quick and painless. It can also foster a more positive relationship between you and your former spouse in the future, which is important if you have children together. To learn more about the early settlement panel and other forms of alternative dispute resolution available to divorcing New Jersey couples, contact The Law Office of Eric B. Hannum Esq., LLC. today. We proudly serve clients in Monmouth, Mercer, Middlesex, Ocean, and Burlington counties.