What to Expect During an Early Settlement Panel

The early settlement panel is an alternative marriage dissolution program designed with the intention of helping both parties reach a settlement before an actual trial. The main benefit of the ESP is that if you and your spouse accept the panel’s recommendation, you can avoid a costly court hearing down the road. Furthermore, you won’t just be saving money. By reaching an agreement through an early settlement panel, you’ll avoid much of the stress that comes with a litigated divorce.

What happens during an early settlement panel?

During the early settlement panel, the counsel for both parties presents their case before a panel usually comprised of two or three volunteer matrimonial law attorneys whose job it is to predict what a judge would do in the event the divorce goes to trial. The recommendation from the ESP will deal with the financial and property distribution of your case, not with child custody or visitation rights, which will be handled separately.

Is the ESP’s recommendation binding?

Although you are encouraged to adopt the recommendation of the ESP, it is not required, and the panel’s suggestion will be confidential and non-binding. However, if you and your spouse agree to the recommendations of the ESP, you may be able to reach a Judgement of Divorce that very same day. This can be a huge relief for many people. However, if you reject the panel’s recommendation, your case will proceed through the courts.

How can I help prepare for an ESP?

Here are four things you can do before an ESP to help you and your attorney prepare for the hearing:

  • Prepare documents. Talk with your lawyer beforehand to determine which documents and pieces of evidence you will need in court. Make sure you have provided your attorney with everything he or she needs before your court hearing.
  • Consider the case from your spouse’s perspective. Thinking about your case from the perspective of your spouse can help you anticipate what’s to come.
  • Be honest. Be honest with your attorney from the start. That way he or she will be prepared for everything that arises at the trial.
  • Be flexible. Although you should know what you want from the divorce, and which issues you’re unwilling to bend on, cases where both spouses are creative and flexible tend to be resolved more easily.

Contact a Seasoned New Brunswick Divorce Attorney

If you have questions about the early settlement panel in New Jersey, don’t hesitate to contact the Law Offices of Steven M. Cytryn at (732) 214-1103. We understand how difficult divorce cases can be and provide compassionate support while aggressively advocating for your rights and interests.

Steven M. Cytryn
About the Author: Steven Cytryn
Steven M. Cytryn is the Managing Member of The Law Office of Steven M. Cytryn, LLC, and primarily focuses his practice on divorce and family law matters.