The New Jersey Matrimonial Early Settlement Program is a form of alternate dispute resolution that allows parties to settle their divorce without the need for a costly and emotional trial. If your divorce from your spouse is not that contentious or there are just a few financial issues that need hammering out, the MESP may be good option as it can allow you to reach an agreement with as little drama as possible.
It is important to note that, according to the New Jersey Judiciary Essex Vicinage website, this process is non-binding and you do not have to accept the settlement that is recommended at the end of the MESP proceeding. If the terms are not agreeable to you, the case will go back before a judge and then the litigation can proceed if necessary. In addition, this process is for property division and financial issues only. If there are other matters that need to be dealt with, such as child custody, those issues cannot be resolved through the MESP.
Your divorce may be referred to the MESP if a judge thinks that your case is a good candidate for early settlement. Your attorney will provide information in advance of the hearing date, which will be reviewed by a panel. On the hearing day, both attorneys will have a chance to present their cases to the panelists. The panelists will then make a recommendation, which can be either accepted or rejected.
The panel is made up of lawyers with experience in the field of family law. They are volunteers who do not get paid for their participation, so they are neutral and do not have any stake in the outcome of the cases they hear. This information should not be considered legal advice and is provided only for general purposes.