Mediation & Arbitration
Bergen County Divorce Lawyer Experienced in Mediation and Arbitration
When going through a divorce, it is likely that you will run into disagreements with your soon-to-be former spouse. Even if you both agree that it is time to end your marriage, at some point—and perhaps at multiple points—between dividing your assets and dividing the time you each spend with your children, your interests will not align.
If you and your spouse cannot agree on the terms of your divorce, what can you do? While one option is to go to court, this is not generally the best option to resolve your differences. Litigation is an adversarial process, and the timeline is generally quite slow; in the end, the outcome of your divorce is ultimately out of your control. Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) is often a better and more cost-effective way to have your matter resolved, either by agreement (Mediation), or by trial (Arbitration).
Understanding the Differences Between Mediation and Arbitration
Mediation and arbitration are different forms of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) which are designed to resolve your matter out of court. Mediation allows you and your partner, with the assistance of a neutral third-party professional to reach an agreement. Arbitration is a trial-type of process in a private setting. In arbitration a hired professional will act as a judge, and decide all issues in a generally more time-efficient manner that a public courtroom trial will take. However, with both forms of ADR, you and your spouse can reach a settlement at any time and maintain control of the process as you both work toward a satisfactory outcome.
While mediation and arbitration can both work under varying circumstances, typically, divorcing spouses will consider mediation as a first option before committing to arbitration. Even when spouses are completely at odds on the terms of their divorce, if they both agree that it is in their best interests to reach an amicable solution, an experienced mediator will often be able to help them come to terms. Divorcing spouses also have the option to try mediation and then initiate arbitration if their efforts at reaching a settlement are unsuccessful. However, if you and your spouse cannot agree to mediate, or if you do not believe mediation will be productive, then you may choose to proceed directly to arbitration.
Using ADR to Resolve Disputes During Your Divorce
If you and your spouse need help creating a mutually-agreeable parenting plan, you may be able to use mediation to work past your differences. There are many creative ways to structure parental rights and responsibilities in a divorce, and an experienced family law mediator will be able to help you explore options that you may not have considered on your own.
If mediation is not a viable option, or if you and your spouse are not able to reach an agreement through the mediation process, then you may want to consider arbitration. In arbitration, a professional arbitrator will listen to you and your spouse’s arguments and then render a decision regarding custody and parenting time.
While parents’ financial support obligations must be established in accordance with the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines, applying these rules to your unique set of circumstances may not necessarily be a straightforward process. Additionally, in certain circumstances, income, family composition and other factors may require deviation from the Guidelines. If you and your spouse are in disagreement over who should pay what (or to whom), you may be able to use mediation to arrive at an appropriate and mutually-agreeable child support calculation.
Alternatively, you and your spouse may choose to establish child support through arbitration. You can do this in addition to using arbitration to establish custody; or, if you and your spouse are in agreement on custody but cannot come to terms on financial support, you can use arbitration solely to obtain a child support determination.
Mediation and arbitration can also be useful tools in situations where grandparents need to formally establish the right to see their grandchildren. While this can be a challenging scenario for you and your spouse to navigate, pursuing mediation or arbitration instead of going to court can help preserve—and even strengthen—the relationships between everyone involved.
Unlike child support, there are no specific guidelines for calculating alimony in New Jersey—spouses are free to establish alimony as they see fit within certain parameters. While this provides significant flexibility, it also means that there can be significant room for disagreement. If you and your spouse agree that it is time to get divorced, but you cannot agree on the terms of alimony, pursuing mediation, or resolving your dispute in an arbitration proceeding may be the solution you need to move forward.
Under New Jersey law, spouses must “fairly” distribute their assets during the divorce process. If you and your spouse have different opinions on what constitutes as a fair distribution, mediation and arbitration may be good options for finalizing the terms of your property settlement. From debt and tax considerations to personal attachment and sentimental value, there are numerous issues that can influence you and your spouse’s priorities regarding the equitable distribution of property.
Discuss Your Options with Bergen County Family Attorney Steven M. Segalas
If you are preparing to go through a divorce in New Jersey and would like more information about mediation or arbitration, please contact Steven Segalas for an initial consultation. To speak with Bergen County family attorney Steven M. Segalas in confidence, please call us (201) 212-6523 or request an appointment online today.