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Mediation FAQs

What is Mediation?
The definition adopted by the New Jersey Association of Professional Mediators is:
Mediation is the process in which a trained neutral person, called a mediator, facilitates the resolution of a dispute between two or more parties. Mediation is non-adversarial with the objective of helping the parties reach a mutually acceptable agreement.

When do you use Divorce Mediation?
Mediation can be used to resolve any dispute, but most commonly is used in family and divorce matters and civil, commercial matters.

Who can benefit from Divorce Mediation?    
Willing participants who are open to resolving their differences can benefit from divorce mediation. For a divorcing couple it is normal for there to be bitterness, sadness, anger, and other emotions, but there are very few couples who cannot benefit from mediation.

What is the goal of Mediation?
The goal of Mediation is to have the parties, in the case of Divorce Mediation, the husband and wife, walk away with an agreement they find acceptable, an agreement that will allow the parties to continue to co-parent their children, if children are involved. This will enable the children to be happy and healthy with the continued involvement of both of their parents despite the divorce. The goal is also to maximize both parties’ financial security after the divorce. The decision to mediate already saves thousands of dollars in attorney and expert fees.

How do I choose a Divorce Mediator?
In the state of New Jersey there are presently no licensing requirements to become a Divorce Mediator. Just about anyone can call him/herself a Mediator. The only thing we have is accreditation with the New Jersey Association of Professional Mediators, but many Mediators are not accredited. Anna Mae Perillo is accredited, but more importantly she has successfully mediated over 1,000 cases, helping families find an acceptable way to resolve the issues which need  to be resolved and move on with dignity. If you choose an ineffective mediator you will waste time and money. Go with experience and track record. Anna Mae Perillo has been a Divorce attorney for over 25 years so she is aware of the legal issues which must be addressed. She has been mediating cases for over 23 years. She was mediating when most people had not ever heard of the concept.  She has a 99.9% success rate in resolving cases to conclusion in as few as one session, but often in about three sessions. Her personality is conducive to Divorce Mediation since she makes people comfortable, having a calming influence. Although it is a bit controversial, Anna Mae Perillo believes it is her duty to alert clients if they are arriving at an agreement she thinks will be frowned upon by one of the review attorneys.  The parties are free to agree upon anything they want, but Anna Mae does not want the entire agreement to blow up by a review attorney, so she makes sure they are prepared for what they might hear from the independent attorneys.

How does Mediation differ from a traditional divorce/litigation?
Divorce Mediation is an opportunity to maintain control of your lives. In a traditional divorce you give up that control to attorneys and judges. In divorce litigation most of the time the goal will be to make the other party look as bad as possible. The attorneys posture, typically taking unreasonable positions, and thousands of dollars are wasted often with nothing to show for it. Also, in a traditional divorce, the children can slip through the cracks and many are ruined in the process. So much time is wasted and if your case needs to be tried, you may wait over a year for a trial date. While most divorces are stressful, with Divorce Mediation, you will stay in control of your lives; we will have an opportunity to work toward an acceptable solution in the best interests of the children; and you will save a tremendous amount of money, maintaining as many assets as possible. It is simply more civilized, more time efficient, and at the same time with Anna Mae Perillo’s Divorce Mediation you will be protected and safeguarded from making costly mistakes since you will also benefit from independent legal advice from your own review attorneys who will usually charge only a modest fee to review your Agreement, give you advice about it, and put through an uncontested divorce very simply. All of the hard work will be done in the privacy of Anna Mae Perillo’s office and not in public Courthouse hallways and public and stressful Courtrooms.

How long does it take for a Divorce Mediation?
The average mediated case for Anna Mae Perillo takes about 3 sessions of between 1-2 hours each. Many cases are resolved in just one session and others may take longer. Each case is unique. There may be evaluations or appraisals needed, tax advice or other areas requiring the special attention of other professionals, but the goal is to keep moving forward to resolve all issues.

After Mediation, how long will it take to be divorced?
If you want to put through the divorce right away you can do so in about 2 months. However, if for example, medical insurance or a desire to file a joint tax return is an issue, couples can opt to put off the final judgment of divorce and live with their agreement after it has been reviewed and signed in front of their attorneys.

What if we are not sure we want to get divorced, but are just ready to separate?
Anna Mae Perillo can help you mediate a Separation Agreement. While New Jersey does not have a “legal separation” per se, your Agreement can define parenting rights and obligations, support issues while you are separated, allocate who will pay what bill, who will stay in the marital home, and any other issue you would like to address and act as your separation contract.

Are there risks involved in Mediation? What if we negotiate an agreement that is not in our best interests?
If you follow Anna Mae Perillo’s instructions which will include having an attorney of your own to consult with so you will know what you may wish to accomplish in the negotiations as well as not acting on the agreement before it is reviewed by your own attorney and signed in front of that attorney, you cannot get hurt in mediation. Anna Mae Perillo will require you to have the mediated agreement reviewed by your own attorney. She will not allow you to sign any agreement in her office so nothing is binding until you have it signed in your own attorney’s office. Anna Mae Perillo will require full disclosure of all assets and liabilities obtaining evaluations when called for so that agreements are reached when clients are informed.

Should independent attorneys be used with divorce mediation?
At any stage in the process each of the parties is free to consult an attorney. Anna Mae Perillo can give you the benefit of her years of experience as a divorce lawyer, but when she serves as a mediator, she will not give you legal advice. Many choose to have an initial consultation with their own attorney before mediating, others consult throughout the process, while some couples choose to bring their own attorneys to the mediation. The one time Ms. Perillo will insist on your using  individual attorneys is after you have resolved all of your issues and it has been put in a written document. She will insist at that point that your own attorney review the proposed agreement and it will be signed in front of your own attorney, never in Ms. Perillo’s office. This is for the protection of all parties including the mediator.

I thought the point of Divorce Mediation was that we didn’t have to have our own attorneys?
All of the hard work will be done in mediation with Anna Mae Perillo, and there is no duplication of effort. However, it is wise to have a legal consult with your own attorney so you will understand your legal rights, and it is important that you have someone look at the agreement with just you in mind before you sign an agreement, which will become a binding contract. Also one of the review attorneys will file the paperwork for the divorce, which proceeds easily and inexpensively from there with the mediated agreement actually being attached to your Judgment of Divorce.

What are the advantages of Mediation?
The couple makes their own decisions about parenting issues, finances, and how their lives will be pending the divorce and after the divorce. They will live by an agreement they have made instead of being told what they must do by a judge after spending thousands of dollars fighting in Court and waiting for months or years to be heard.
Mediation is particularly important when children are involved. In Court no one is representing the children and they often get lost if not ruined by the animosity that abounds in the litigated case. In Mediation with Anna Mae Perillo, the children will come first. Their individual needs can be taken into account. Anna Mae Perillo will help you come up with a parenting plan outlining when the children will see each parent, how they will be taken to their activities, how holidays and other special events can be shared with the children and each parent. The parenting plan can be customized in ways that would not ordinarily happen in a litigated case. The goal in Mediation is to have healthy and happy children that still have the voice and presence of both of their parents. The goal will be to maximize consistency and stability. The children will be emotionally healthier with two parents who even though will not remain together will nevertheless continue to work together for their benefit. Also, Anna Mae Perillo has a list of child specialists who can be called upon if the couple believes their child may need some support before and/or after the divorce.
Divorce mediation saves thousands of dollars. In Mediation you pay one hourly fee, not two. Ms. Perillo asks for no up-front retainer so the couple often saves about $10,000 in retainer fees alone. It has been said that the average cost of Divorce in New Jersey is $25,000 each or $50,000 for the couple. The average cost of Anna Mae Perillo’s Divorce Mediation is ~$3,000, which includes a draft Marital Settlement Agreement. From there the couple may expect to pay about $2,000 to 3,000 for the review attorneys to complete the paperwork and get the Final Judgment of Divorce. Getting divorced in the state of New Jersey for about $5,000 is a huge cost savings. Expert fees are also dramatically reduced since if a financial expert is needed the couple can decide on one expert instead of each retaining a separate expert and the Court appointing a third expert if the couple’s experts are far apart on the numbers. Also the entire Mediation process is simply more time efficient than the alternative litigated case.  You will not be billed at $600 to $900 per hour for two attorneys traveling and then standing around waiting in Court, or for writing nasty letters back and forth. Each time the couple meets with Anna Mae Perillo for a mediation session a lot will be accomplished and no time is wasted.

Anna Mae Perillo is a Divorce Mediator, does she mediate any other types of disputes?
Yes. Anna Mae Perillo has mediated a wide variety of cases including neighborly disputes, contractor cases, and labor disputes. The techniques she employs translate to almost any type of dispute or controversy.

What if we want to try mediation, but have no idea what we are entitled to?
Anna Mae Perillo will encourage you to seek the advice of independent counsel to obtain information about your legal rights. If you do not know a mediation friendly attorney, she can share names with you. That attorney can be in the wings to guide you during the mediation process and/or be there to review the proposed agreement before you sign anything. Mediator, Anna Mae Perillo will not let parties to a mediation sign any agreement in her office. The purpose of mediation will be, though, to flesh out the series of issues which will need to be decided, do budgets, and to work together to make sure every member of the family’s interests are taken into account. The beauty of mediation is that we will have the opportunity to arrive at an interests-based agreement customizing your agreement to reach your common goals.

What if my spouse has been paying all of the bills and knows about all of the assets and I do not have a handle on the finances?
This is actually more common than not, that one spouse has been more involved with the finances than the other.  In Anna Mae Perillo’s mediation, she will insist on full disclosure. All relevant statements including retirement accounts, non-retirement accounts, mortgage payoff statements, information on life insurance, credit card bills, etc. will be required to be brought to the mediation table. She will assist you in doing your budgets and can help you figure out your financial picture. She also works as a team, if necessary, with financial professionals including CPA’s and financial planners to help you maximize income and assets for both of you as well as to empower and educate the spouse who is not familiar with paying bills and organizing his/her finances so he/she feels more secure going forward. When Mediation is completed no one should be in the dark; each party should have a clear understanding of what they will have to work with going forward.

If I am already involved in a more traditional case with two attorneys, is it too late to try Mediation?
It is not too late to try Mediation. Anna Mae Perillo has helped many couples who were in the middle of ugly Court battles or just not getting anywhere with their case after spending thousands on attorney’s fees. She often settles these cases in one session. You are fee to come to mediation with just your spouse or you may bring your attorneys with you. Suggest to your spouse that you try one session of mediation- you have nothing to lose and so much to gain.

What if I am already divorced, but now new issues have arisen, support needs to be adjusted, or our child is about to go to college and we cannot agree how we will pay for it?
Anna Mae Perillo does many post- judgment cases. Issues inevitably come up after a divorce. She can help if  a new parenting schedule needs to be established, or incomes have changed or a periodic review is called for in the original divorce judgment. She can run  new child support guidelines and assist in reviewing budget needs for the family. Also, many Divorce Judgments simply say the parties will pay college expenses according to their financial ability at the time and the time has now arrived. Anna Mae Perillo can help you figure out how college will be paid by looking at incomes, helping you evaluate the options your child has. Working together in mediation will save you thousands of dollars in motion costs as well as much unnecessary strife  by avoiding post-judgment litigation.

How does mediation differ from Arbitration?
In Mediation the parties come to their own agreement they find acceptable. Anna Mae Perillo, as the mediator, will provide a neutral and safe environment for the couple to arrive at that agreement. In Arbitration, the arbitrator actually decides the outcome of the case. Anna Mae Perillo is also an Arbitrator and arbitrates cases at the Court House and privately. Arbitration can be “non-binding”, meaning that the parties can reject the decision of the arbitrator or “binding” where they are bound by the decision just as they would be if a judge decided the case.

How does Mediation differ from Collaborative Law?
In Collaborative law, each spouse is represented by his/her collaboratively trained attorney who will be present during all of the negotiations which take place in four-way conferences. It is another great alternative to the litigated case. It can be more costly since two attorneys are working during the negotiations, but it is still far better than litigation. See further information about this other great, dignified, family- focused, and private approach in the section entitled “Collaborative Law” on this web site.

If I have other questions, what should I do?
Feel free to call Anna Mae Perillo at 732-758-8333 and to speak with her directly. She will answer all of your questions on the phone before you make a decision to mediate at no charge, or feel free to e-mail her at She looks forward to hearing from you.

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