What Is Alternative Dispute Resolution, and Can It Help Me in My Divorce?

In divorce and other family legal proceedings, there can be disputes you can’t seem to resolve with your spouse or other family members. Most people feel that if you can’t find ways to resolve these issues that going to court is the only answer; that is not the case.

“Alternative dispute resolution,” or “ADR,” is exceedingly popular in New Jersey and is a remarkably effective way to resolve civil, employment, family, and divorce disputes without trial. Although the New Jersey’s Office of Dispute Resolution outlines this process, it is legally complex and can best be utilized by a trained professional.

Usually, ADR is a more rapid and cost-effective way to resolve your disputes.

Using “Mediation” or “Arbitration” allows you to get professional third-party input on these issues and effectively find ways to solve them.

However, although mediation and arbitration are effective and commonly used in New Jersey, there are significant differences between these two methods of ADR.

These are both usually voluntary processes, but the most significant difference between the two is who makes the final decision in the matter being resolved. Let’s use divorce as an example, and if you go through mediation, the final decision is a mutually reached agreement between you and your spouse. At the same time, an “arbitrator” will thoroughly analyze your case and reach a mandated solution (or verdict) that must be followed.

Many factors may determine whether mediation or arbitration is best for you, and every case and situation differs.

By consulting with your experienced, empathetic, and thorough New Jersey ADR lawyer, they can help you decide which alternative dispute resolution would work best for you and your unique situation.

Remember that you must obtain a divorce or family lawyer with experience representing people and businesses in mediation and arbitration. This law team must be ready and able to fight for your rights and legal goals.

What is Mediation, and How Does It Work?

If you decide on mediation, you and the other party (your spouse) will voluntarily meet with a neutral third party known as a mediator. The mediator listens to all the details and facts of your case (and the arguments and issues involved) and attempts to help both parties reach a mutually agreed upon resolution or settlement.

Mediation is remarkably like arbitration, as it is an entirely private process outside of any courtroom.

Again, using divorce as an example, some New Jersey judges mandate that certain cases attend mediation before appearing in court.

You must know, however, this is still considered a voluntary process as neither side is required, in any way, to agree to what is discussed in mediation. During mediation, you and your spouse will discuss your thoughts, feelings, and goals before resolving your dispute.

Your professional and court-trained mediator acts as a third and neutral party and is not given any power to decide on the conflicts at hand; however, they can make suggestions and compromises that could work for both of you.

Mediation aims to help you and the other party resolve disagreements on your own without the need to enter an expensive, stressful, and time-consuming trial.

What is Arbitration, and Is It Different Than Mediation?

Arbitration is also a privately held meeting that occurs outside of the courtroom.

You and the opposing party meet and offer detailed and thorough evidence and arguments pertaining to all the issues involved in your dispute. This is also voluntary, and both parties must agree to participate.

However, the primary and significant difference from mediation is that the third party “arbitrator” is given the authority and power to make a final and binding legal decision concerning the dispute at hand.

It’s much like a trial but attempts to be more straightforward, less stressful, and less formal.

What’s vital is that your “arbitrator” must be able to stay neutral, discern all the facts of a case, and thoughtfully and diligently apply the law and rational thinking to come to a practical and reasonably fair solution.

For example, arbitration may be used when you, and the other party, reach an irreconcilable impasse in other more complicated cases. You must note, however, that the decision made by the arbitrator is legally binding; their decision is lawfully final and enforceable.

Either ADR can work for you, but the professional advice, guidance, and knowledge of your Morris County family or divorce lawyer will prove invaluable in deciding which method of ADR will work for you.

What Are Some “Side by Side” Examples Between Mediation & Arbitration?

In many ways, arbitration and mediation processes are incredibly similar, but in a few ways, they differ vastly. No matter the legal issue, your qualified Morris County ADR law team will analyze your case to ensure you enter ADR in a way that is always in your best interest.

Some differences between mediation and arbitration are:

  • In arbitration, the arbitrator will make the final legal decision; in mediation, you and the other party finalize the issue.
  • In arbitration, extensive discovery is often needed; in mediation, any exchange of information is voluntary and usually limited.
  • The arbitrator analyses and listens to both sides and renders a legal award; the mediator helps you understand all issues involved and assists you both in reaching a decision.
  • During arbitration, both parties testify under oath; in mediation, you can talk about your feelings and be more creative about your solution.
  • Arbitration results in a win-or-lose decision of the arbitrator, and relationships can often be damaged beyond repair; mediation ends in a hopefully mutually reached decision, thus allowing for a more harmonious future relationship.

You must note that either form of ADR is usually more helpful, less costly, and stressful than going directly to court. However, your professionally trained Morris County ADR lawyer will tirelessly work to help you decide which process fits best into your case and interests.

I Want More Information About Mediation or Arbitration; What Should I do?

Both arbitration and mediation are used frequently in New Jersey to help opposing parties reach “common ground” in their disputes while avoiding costly, stressful, and lengthy court proceedings.

However, even though these forms of ADR are often quicker and more cost-effective, the outcomes are every bit as important and usually binding as those reached in a court of law.
So, your ADR law team must be able to fight for your rights before and during this process.

The ADR lawyers at the Edens Law Group have decades of winning experience in all types of mediation and arbitration. Call them today at (908) 529-0353, and they will help you confidently decide which form of ADR is in your best interest and will stand by your side during the entire process.