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Alternatives to New Jersey Divorce Court: Mediation and Arbitration

Even when both parties agree it’s best to go their separate ways, few relish the actual divorce process itself – especially if it involves costly trips to Court. Increasingly, couples are finding arbitration and mediation to be desirable alternatives to litigating their divorce in a New Jersey courtroom.

These alternatives tend to be less expensive, contentious and time-consuming than divorce litigation. Working with an experienced divorce lawyer to ensure your rights are protected is still important. You are still making major decisions about issues of great personal and financial significance, such as:

  • Division of property;
  • Child custody;
  • Child support; and
  • Alimony.

Resolving these issues with clarity, incidental to getting a divorce, can be done effectively in either mediation or arbitration. In addition to being faster and less expensive, they also tend to be more flexible and less formal than litigation.

Often the biggest hindrance to either of these alternatives are the individuals themselves because, in order to work these methods of resolving a divorce require candor, direct and open communication and a willingness to compromise. Before deciding which route to go, it’s important to consult with an experienced New Jersey divorce lawyer, ensuring all sides understand the definitions and differences when it comes to litigation, arbitration and mediation.

What is Mediation?

Mediation is one less formal way of resolving legal disputes. Unlike a Courtroom, where theJ is the decisionmaker, it is the people involved who maintain control over the outcome.

In mediation, a single mediator will consider the evidence presented and make recommendations but won’t give legal advice and lacks authority to issue a binding decision. Their primary function is to help both sides clarify their key goals and help them work toward reaching a solution.

Our East Brunswick family law attorneys are experienced family law mediators, and generally recommend the mediation process when both parties can communicate amicably. This may be a good option for two individuals who plan to continue interacting post divorce.

What is Arbitration?

Arbitration is like mediation in that it gives the two parties involved control over how formal or informal of a process they want. It also, like mediation, has the benefit of confidentiality (something not available in litigation). A single, neutral arbitrator, chosen by the parties works with their respective divorce lawyers in preparation for a hearing, at which witnesses, records and other arguments will be presented.

Arbitration most often takes less time than a trial in Court, as the arbitrator usually has more availability then a Judge. The arbitrator will also have a decision much faster than a Judge, as it is not unheard of for a divorce trial to take several years to complete in Court.

Something that can be either pro or con – depending on which side of the issue you’re on – is that the decisions of an arbitrator are final, (if you are in binding arbitration) and typically aren’t reviewable by a Judge. In some cases, decisions can be revisited in a private appellate arbitration process, but that will cost both sides additional money.

More Control In Your Hands

Taking your divorce to Court is a risk not because there is no guarantee about the time or expense – or much else for that matter. Litigation can have unpredictable and unfavorable outcomes and most often both parties end up unhappy.

Arbitration and mediation allow the parties involved to retain more control of their future.

One of the reasons we recommend these methods over litigation is that most divorcing couples aren’t dealing with an impersonal corporation or a hardened criminal. This is someone with whom they’ve made a life, and perhaps will continue to go on sharing life with to some extent. Courts are often not the best place to resolve matters of the heart when something less rigid will do. As every relationship is different, mediation and arbitration can be more easily tailored to meet your specific needs.

If you have questions, the professionals at our family law firm can help.

Call Rozin|Golinder Law, LLC today for a free and confidential consultation.

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