New Jersey Early Settlement Panel

The Early Settlement Panel (ESP) is a mandatory program that requires both the husband and wife, along with their respective attorneys, to appear before a voluntary settlement panel of experienced family law attorneys for the purpose of trying to settle the financial issues in your case. At the law offices of Morris, Downing & Sherred, our family law attorneys have the experience necessary to serve as early settlement panelists and have been recognized by the court for their superior service to the ESP program.

The ESP Process In New Jersey

At the ESP, the facts of your case are presented to a panel of two experienced family law attorneys. Only economic issues, such as alimony, equitable distribution and child support, are addressed at the ESP. The ESP panelists do not hear issues of child custody and visitation. The panelists consider the specific circumstances of your case and listen to the arguments presented by the attorneys from both sides, then give the parties their recommendations for how the case would ultimately be resolved by a judge if it were to go to trial. While nonbinding, this recommendation frequently helps the parties and their attorneys reach a settlement agreement.

How To Prepare For The ESP

Prior to the ESP date, you will meet with your attorney and outline an ESP statement, which will summarize your position for resolving the case on all economic issues. Thereafter, the ESP statement will be submitted to the attorneys on the panel and will be used by the panel in making their recommendations.

What Happens After The ESP?

If you settle your case, you can go before the judge who can grant you a divorce that day. If your case is not settled, then your matter will continue and a new case management order will be entered, and you will likely be referred to economic mediation. There is no obligation to accept the recommendations of the volunteer panel attorneys, and their suggestions are not communicated to the judge.

Contact Us Today

You do not have to go through the divorce or ESP process on your own. Whatever unique challenges you face, we are ready to help you. Contact our Newton offices or call us at 973-383-2700 today to schedule a confidential consultation and learn more.