Most divorcing couples in New Jersey choose to end their marriage through non-litigation methods such as mediation and collaborative divorce. These methods are done without court intervention, thereby giving spouses complete control over the terms of their divorce agreement. However, couples must be able to work through all the issues within their marriage, which may include sensitive topics such as alimony, custody and division of marital debts and liabilities. It's not uncommon for couples to disagree over these issues, but most of them are able to overcome their differences with help from certified mediators or collaborative divorce attorneys.
If couples are at a complete standstill after numerous meetings, there is one more option they can explore before proceeding to trial. Known as divorce arbitration, this process is similar to a court hearing in that each party presents their case before an arbitrator, who will then issue a ruling in the form of an "arbitration award." There are, however, some key differences between arbitration and litigation. With arbitration, you and your spouse get to choose an arbitrator with help from your attorneys, or by using reliable sources like the New Jersey Divorce Arbitrators Association at http://www.njdivorcearbitrators.com/. You can also schedule a block of days or weeks, during which a decision must be reached. This is very different than going to trial, where hearing dates may be weeks or months apart.
In spite of these benefits, there are some downsides to the arbitration process that you should be aware of. The most important consideration has to do with the binding nature of an arbitration award. Whether an arbitration award is binding or non-binding is something that you and your spouse will decide ahead of time Binding awards cannot be appealed unless you can prove that the arbitrator was clearly biased against you. Non-binding decisions can be appealed, but it's very likely that the court will agree with the arbitrator's decision. If this is the case, you will most likely be ordered to pay your spouse's legal costs, since it was your idea to bring the issue before the court.
For a full explanation of the divorce arbitration process in New Jersey, please speak with the family law attorney of Villani & DeLuca, P.C. Our lawyers include Vincent C. DeLuca, Esq., who is a divorce mediator and collaborative divorce attorney, as well as a matrimonial law attorney. This certification is only given to attorneys who exhibit the highest levels of education and trial experience, in addition to being held in high regard by fellow attorneys and superior court judges. Because the arbitration process requires arguing your case as you would in court, it's imperative that you discuss all the pros and cons before making a final decision. If you decide to proceed with arbitration, it's even more important to retain the highest level of representation from a matrimonial law attorney. Please consider discussing your options with Mr. DeLuca during a free initial consultation.