Marital relationships, though central to so many lives, can be difficult to navigate. At Bozanian McGregor, LLC, our family law attorneys are attuned to the fact that irreconcilable differences between spouses can too easily escalate into courtroom battles.
Wherever possible, we guide our New Jersey clients with such problems into less confrontational methods of alternative dispute resolution: mediation or arbitration. If you are facing divorce and the challenges of associated issues, such as division of property, child custody, parenting time, and spousal support, contact us to discuss your best alternatives to the time-consuming, expensive, emotional turbulence of a trial.
More and More New Jerseyans Are Turning to Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR)
There are good reasons for the increasing popularity of mediation and arbitration as means of ironing out divorce matters. In addition to offering shorter, more efficient, less costly methods of arriving at an acceptable compromise, both of these methods lower the temperature of the conflict and provide a more private, less stressful means of settling differences.
The primary reason for this is that each ADR involves the intervention of a trained professional. Having an objective third party assist negotiations gives both spouses a greater sense of fairness and empowerment. In addition, the divorcing couple has considerably more influence and flexibility when scheduling an ADR than when controlling the time frame of a trial.
Defining Arbitration and Mediation
Arbitration involves a neutral third party known as an arbitrator — an experienced, unbiased, highly trained person — typically a lawyer or retired judge. The arbitrator will listen carefully to the evidence and arguments presented by both sides and make a decision. Depending on the agreement between the parties, the decision this individual comes to will be either binding or non-binding.
The arbitration process can be tailored to the needs of the parties. They can agree on the procedural rules, the scope of the arbitrator’s authority, and even the factors the arbitrator should consider in making a decision. This ability to individualize the procedure is a significant advantage over the more rigid procedures of the court.
Binding arbitration means that the decision is final and enforceable, similar to a court judgment, and can only be challenged in court on very limited grounds, such as fraud or arbitrator bias. Non-binding arbitration, while less common in family law, allows the parties to seek a court trial if they are dissatisfied with the arbitration result.
Mediation, on the other hand, involves a neutral mediator who facilitates discussion between the parties to help them reach a mutually agreeable solution. Unlike an arbitrator, a mediator does not make decisions for the parties but rather helps them communicate more effectively, explore potential solutions, and arrive at a viable compromise.
The mediator, an impartial facilitator, works with the parties to clarify their perspectives, explore their settlement options, and negotiate an agreement. Unlike arbitration, the mediator does not impose a solution but guides the parties to find their own. Mediation is especially well-suited for family law disputes since it promotes cooperation and communication, which are essential to maintaining in ongoing relationships like co-parenting. It allows parties to develop solutions customized to their specific family needs in ways formal litigation cannot.
The Costs of These Two Types of Dispute Resolution
Generally, both arbitration and mediation are more cost-effective than litigation. The exact cost can vary based on factors such as the complexity of the case, the length of sessions, and the professional fees of the arbitrator or mediator. However, the overall expenses are usually lower because the process is faster and less formal than court proceedings. Moreover, the emotional cost, often overlooked in litigation, tends to be lower in ADR processes due to their less adversarial nature.
How Protocol and Procedures for Arbitration and Mediation Were Established
Several organizations play a pivotal role in establishing protocols and procedures for arbitration and mediation in New Jersey. The American Arbitration Association (AAA) and the Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Service (JAMS) are two of the leading organizations that provide guidelines and trained professionals for arbitration. For mediation, organizations like the Association for Conflict Resolution (ACR) and the New Jersey Association of Professional Mediators (NJAPM) set standards for practice and offer certification programs.
These organizations ensure that ADR practitioners are well-trained and adhere to ethical standards, enhancing the reliability and effectiveness of the arbitration and mediation processes. They also provide resources and support for continuous learning and development in this field.
Contact Our Experienced Mediation/Arbitration Attorneys Today
Unless your divorce is complicated by matters like domestic violence, child abuse, illegal activity, or substance abuse, there is a good chance that Bozanian McGregor may be able to offer you a workable alternative to litigation. Get in touch with us now so we can help you move forward with your divorce with as little emotional and financial stress as possible.