New Jersey Divorce, Child Custody, and Family Law Attorneys
Family Law Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) FAQs
The following are answers to some frequently asked questions about using alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods to resolve divorces and other family law disputes in New Jersey. At Romanowski Law Offices, we have decades of experience helping clients achieve favorable outcomes through Alternaitve Dispute Resolution. Attorney Curtis Romanowski has pioneered many of the concepts used in modern ADR, including specifically Collaborative Divorce and Progressive Divorce. If we have not answered your specific question below, feel free to call us at (732) 603-8585 for more information.
What is the difference between mediation and arbitration?
Mediation and arbitration are the two most common forms of ADR. They both allow for resolution of family disputes out of court, and they are both typically significantly less expensive and time consuming than traditional litigation. However, beyond these and a few other general similarities, they are very different.
With mediation, the parties work together with the help of an independent third-party mediator in order to jointly develop a mutually agreeable solution for resolving their differences. With arbitration, the parties present their cases to a neutral third-party arbitrator who ultimately makes a decision based on the facts and legal arguments presented. An arbitrator’s decision can be either binding or non-binding, but in either case, it is made in the arbitrator’s sole discretion. Depending on the circumstances involved in your divorce or other family law issue, one option may make more sense than the other. We can help you decide.
What is Collaborative Divorce? How do I know if it is right for me?
Collaborative Divorce is a non-adversarial approach to dissolving a marriage that involves the spouses and their attorneys working together to craft a final divorce settlement that adequately meets both partners’ goals in light of the facts at hand. In a Collaborative Divorce, everyone involved commits to engaging in efficient and constructive discussions with the mindset that they will all be better served if they can resolve their differences without resorting to litigation. The process is different from mediation in that there is not a neutral third party whose job is to bring the parties closer together. Instead, the parties and their attorneys collaborate to identify and evaluate opportunities for achieving a mutually-agreeable outcome.
We recommend using the Collaborative Divorce method within the framework of our Progressive Divorce model.
Is ADR less expensive than going to court?
In most cases, yes. All methods of ADR can be significantly less expensive than going to court. Not only does ADR allow you to get to a resolution faster, but it also avoids many of the procedural issues and other confrontations that can keep adversarial attorneys on the clock.
What happens if my spouse and I cannot resolve our differences through mediation or Collaborative Divorce?
The reality is that most cases that start with mediation or Collaborative Divorce also end with mediation or Collaborative Divorce. If your family law attorney has assessed the circumstances of your dispute and you, your spouse, and your respective attorneys have all committed to the purpose and philosophy of ADR, in most cases this will carry through to the end of the divorce process.
However, there are exceptions. If you and your spouse are not able to come to terms on custody, alimony, equitable distribution of property, or some other issue involved in your divorce, then you may have to take your dispute to court. However, note that with a Collaborative Divorce you and your spouse may be required to obtain new legal counsel to represent you in the formal court proceedings.
Can I challenge the arbitrator’s decision if I disagree with it?
Generally speaking, yes. If you submit your divorce or other family law dispute to arbitration and you disagree with the arbitrator’s award, you can seek to have a judge overrule the arbitrator’s decision in court.
How does a divorce get finalized after ADR?
If you and your spouse are able to resolve all aspects of your divorce through ADR, your attorneys will prepare a Matrimonial Settlement Agreement that puts the terms of your divorce in writing. Once you and your spouse sign, your attorneys will file the settlement agreement along with an uncontested Complaint for Divorce. Once the judge approves the settlement agreement, your divorce will be final.
Note also that you can use ADR to resolve individual aspects of your divorce. For example, when you file a petition for custody, the New Jersey courts will require you and your spouse to attempt to work out a mutually acceptable parenting plan through mediation. Similarly, if you and your spouse agree on some issues but not others, you can use Alternative Dispute Resollution to settle the agreeable issues while leaving the open ones for resolution in court.
Contact Romanowski Law Offices for an Expert Consultation
The attorneys at Romanowski Law Offices have helped numerous clients finalize their divorces and resolve other family law matters through ADR. For more information about our services, contact us to schedule an expert consultation today.