Once a couple has made the decision to divorce, there are a number of alternative dispute resolution options available. If the divorce is acrimonious, and the couple is unable to reach a resolution on the key issues, they may need to settle their disputes by resorting to litigation, mediation, or arbitration. Litigation involves filing a complaint with the Court. In mediation, a neutral mediator will work with the couple to reach a mutually agreeable resolution. Arbitration can be an effective alternative to litigation with the outcome of the case being determined by a privately hired arbitrator. If you are seeking a divorce and considering arbitration, contact an experienced divorce lawyer.
What Is Involved in the Arbitration Process?
Arbitration is similar to mediation in that a neutral third party is used to help couples resolve their issues. A mediator helps couples navigate the divorce process but does not make decisions. The mediator offers guidance on how to resolve important issues and facilitates resolution. In contrast, an arbitrator serves as a private Judge who considers the evidence presented by both parties and actually determines the outcome of the dispute. The arbitration process is less formal than a courtroom, but there are still procedures that both parties will be expected to follow, and the outcome is binding subject to limited rights of appeal.
What Are the Main Benefits of Arbitration?
With the current scarcity of judicial resources in New Jersey, arbitration is an appealing option for couples who wish to avoid a court battle. The following are additional benefits associated with the arbitration process:
- Less time-consuming: Unlike divorce litigation where both parties are bound by the Court’s schedule, the arbitration process can usually begin quickly and can be scheduled around the litigants’ calendars.
- Less expensive: Arbitration is usually less expensive than traditional courtroom litigation. There are still costs to consider, including the arbitrator’s retainer fee and hourly rate, potential transcription costs, and any filing fees imposed by arbitration associations. These costs are usually significantly less than formal court litigation.
- Privacy: Unlike traditional filings that are considered to be public record unless a protective order has been filed, arbitration is done privately between the divorcing couple. In addition, the filings are not considered public record.
- Less complicated: The arbitration process can be less formal than traditional litigation, and disputes are often resolved more quickly by an arbitrator than in a courtroom, where a Judge must follow the New Jersey Rules of Civil Procedure.
- Finality: The arbitrator’s decision is generally final unless appealed and is usually reached more quickly than that of a traditional courtroom Judge.
Are There Any Downsides to Arbitration?
While arbitration offers many of the same benefits as mediation, there are disadvantages that couples should be aware of before proceeding with this method of conflict resolution. One downside of arbitration is the fact that because arbitration decisions are binding, the couple must accept the arbitrator’s decision. The right to appeal the arbitrator’s decision is limited.
What Are the Steps Involved in Arbitration?
Once a couple has decided to pursue arbitration, there are a number of prerequisites that must be followed such as the completion of an Arbitration Questionnaire, Disclosure Form, and Consent Order. Then, the parties must choose an arbitrator. After the arbitrator has been hired, both parties will need to pay a retainer fee and may have to pay for a recording of the arbitration if custody and parenting time issues are involved. The case will proceed much like a typical trial, although the proceedings will not occur in a courtroom. Both parties’ lawyers have the right to give opening and closing statements, call witnesses, cross-examine witnesses, and present evidence. The arbitrator will then issue a decision. A dedicated divorce lawyer will assist clients with the arbitration process and address any questions or concerns that may arise.
Somerville Divorce Lawyers at Lepp, Mayrides & Eaton, LLC Can Help Clients Navigate the Arbitration Process
The experienced Somerville divorce lawyers at Lepp, Mayrides & Eaton, LLC ensure their clients’ rights are protected, whether a settlement is reached, or litigation is necessary. Call us at 908-800-7676 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.
Located in Somerville, New Jersey, our attorneys serve clients throughout Central New Jersey, including those in Somerset County, Hunterdon County, Warren County, Morris County, Mercer County, Monmouth County, Union County, and Middlesex County.