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In South Carolina, a family court judge recently ordered U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford and his ex-wife to enter mediation in order to settle a financial dispute regarding their two younger sons.

The couple's divorce agreement, finalized about four years ago, stated that the two would attempt to work cooperatively to ensure that the amount of money in their younger sons' trust funds would become equal to the amounts put into their two older boys' accounts at the time. But Rep. Sanford and his ex-wife have been unable to come to an agreement, prompting the South Carolina judge's decision. The two divorced when Sanford, who was governor at the time, admitted to having an affair with a woman to whom he is currently engaged.

Mediation, which can be an effective and mutually beneficial process, involves the following:

  • An alternative dispute resolution method, mediation uses an active third-party facilitator to find those points on which both parties agree and those on which they are at odds.
  • The mediator then addresses points of contention one-by-one, allowing for negotiation, compromise and cooperation where possible.
  • Mediation has become an increasingly common and useful tool for resolving conflict, and judges frequently order mediation before issuing orders on divorce-related issues like child custody and asset division.

Of course, on some issues exes are simply unwilling to yield, and those matters proceed to court.

If you are considering divorce in New Jersey, remember that mediation can be a helpful tool for deciding on a wide range of important issues, including child custody, child support and visitation rights, while maintaining some control over the situation. To ensure that the process moves as quickly and smoothly as possible, seek guidance and support from an experienced attorney.

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