Beyond mediation, one of the most popular alternatives to divorce is that of arbitration. While mediation centers around divorcing couples finding their own solutions to the key divorce issues of marital asset division, child custody, child support, and spousal support, arbitration is akin to the traditional divorce process in that it involves a third-party divorce arbitrator who acts as a judge, and makes final rulings regarding these issues.
Arbitration retains the benefits of Alternative Dispute Resolution in that the “judge” is a privately hired party, and all discussions and negotiations take place outside of a public courtroom. This allows for couples to much more privately, cost-effectively, and efficiently resolve their divorce when compared to a court-decided divorce, but leaves the sometimes stressful decision-making power in the hands of a third party, rather than with the couple themselves.
While our firm is not yet prepared to act as third-party arbitrator judges, we are prepared to put our effective and unique approach to divorce and family law to work for you as your legal representative during the arbitration process. By retaining individual legal representation during arbitration, you can ensure that any agreements you reach are fair to you, represent your unique needs and interests, and protect your long-term legal, financial, and parental future.
Contact our firm today to discuss your divorce and how we can help you through the arbitration process in a comprehensive and confidential Strategic Planning Session.
What is Arbitration?
As previously noted, arbitration involves a divorcing couple hiring a neutral, third-party to act as a judge during their divorce. This third party is usually a retired judge, or an attorney trained specifically in acting as a neutral arbitrator.
Before beginning the arbitration process, couples can choose whether they wish to enter into binding arbitration, or non-binding arbitration. Binding arbitration means that any and all settlements awarded by the judge arbitrator will be final, and legally binding. While any binding arbitration settlement can be modified if circumstances change after the divorce, they cannot be modified on the sole basis that you disagree with the final ruling of the arbitrator. On the other hand, a non-binding arbitration means that either party is free to seek the ruling of a court-decided divorce if, after their arbitration is concluded, they are not satisfied with the resulting settlements.
Both methods have their advantages and disadvantages. The principal advantage of a binding arbitration is that it will ultimately result in your divorce being finalized, while a non-binding arbitration can sometimes mean that you have wasted time, effort, and money on the arbitration process, only to then seek a traditional court-decided divorce afterward. On the other hand, non-binding arbitrations can be advantageous because, even if ultimately rejected, they can give both couples a sense of the type of settlement they can expect in a court decision and can cause them to re-evaluate their options concerning other alternative dispute resolution methods.
Speak with our experienced divorce arbitration attorneys today to gain a better understanding of whether a binding arbitration or a non-binding arbitration makes more sense in your specific situation.
How Does Arbitration Work?
Arbitration is similar to court-decided divorces in that each party will present information and arguments to the judge arbitrator. The arbitrator will then review all of this information and using standard New Jersey case-law and legal precedents, make a final ruling regarding the terms of the divorce settlement agreement. Depending on the type of arbitration you choose to pursue, this ruling can either be final and binding, or each party can be given the option to accept the arbitrator’s ruling or instead take their divorce to family court.
Just as in a court-decided divorce, it is highly recommended that you retain experienced legal representation during this process. As your divorce arbitration attorneys, we can help you to present information and arguments to the judge arbitrator in a clear and compelling manner and ensure that your legal rights and future are protected throughout the process. Without legal representation during the arbitration process, you risk providing inaccurate information which can result in highly unfair settlements, and open the door for expensive and time-consuming litigation down the road when you, or your former spouse, finds that your settlements were based on incomplete or inaccurate arguments.
When Should I Arbitrate My Divorce?
If you are interested in the many benefits Alternative Dispute Resolution can provide, such as a more private and informal setting, and being less expensive and less time-consuming, but feel that working with your spouse and finding your own resolutions through the mediation process may be too difficult, then arbitration can be an attractive and successful divorce alternative for you.
Arbitration also has the added benefit of you being able to retain individual legal counsel. A divorce mediator, by nature, must remain neutral at all times, and cannot advise one party or the other when they may be able to secure a more favorable resolution, or when a particular settlement is not truly in their favor. On the other hand, as your arbitration lawyer, we can advise you when it may be possible to press for a more favorable settlement, and also advise you when a particular settlement may not be in your best interests, for any reason.
In general, divorcing couples choose arbitration when they are interested in taking advantage of the benefits of Alternative Dispute Resolution, but do not have the patience, or the desire, to reach agreements on their own. Arbitration can also be beneficial for individuals who are interested in retaining individual legal counsel and guidance during the divorce process but wish to still keep their divorce out of the public family court system.
Contact Our Divorce Arbitrators Today
At Jacobs Berger, our attorneys have extensive experience acting as legal representation during the arbitration process for clients across Madison, Randolph, Hanover, Florham Park, Morristown, and the greater Morris County area.
Our firm focuses on providing legal guidance and service which allows you to build successful foundations for your future, while simultaneously not compromising the relationships and financial security you have already worked so hard to achieve. We understand how important your children and their lives are to you, and also that you will need to work with your spouse in the future as co-parents, so we strive to work in a manner which protects your individual interests, but also does not upset the stability of your children, or your family.
To schedule a comprehensive and confidential Strategic Planning Session with our firm today regarding your divorce, your options for alternative dispute resolution, or to learn more about arbitration and how we can help you, please contact us online, or through our Morristown, NJ office at (973) 710-4366.