Arbitration in Family Part cases is a structured process that in some ways is similar to the rules and procedure of the courtroom. However, the parties in an arbitration maintain much more control. Parties are powerless to alter the structure and schedule of a courtroom. A typical courtroom divorce does not take place over consecutive days or even consecutive weeks. In our overburdened court system, divorce cases are often heard in piecemeal blocks of time over several different dates. Furthermore, you cannot choose the judge assigned to your case. However, you can control the structure of your arbitration, the scheduling of your arbitration sessions, and you can choose your arbitrator. Due to this efficiency, the arbitration process is often less expensive than a courtroom trial despite the fact the parties must pay the arbitrator.
Arbitration is similar to litigation in some respects and different in others. Once arbitration begins, the case proceeds with witnesses testifying and documents submitted to the arbitrator consistent with the rules of evidence, as in a trial – but the Rules of Evidence are applied in a manner agreed upon by the parties. As an arbitrator, the commitment is to ensure a fair and just conclusion to litigation based on findings of relevant facts and reliance on the applicable law. At the conclusion of the arbitration hearing, the arbitrator advises the parties of a date for issuance of his or her decision, which depends upon the complexity of the issues involved. The goal of a divorce arbitrator is to render a decision within 30 days, if possible, which is significantly sooner than the time it typically takes for a judge’s decision. The parties may also decide whether the arbitration decision is appealable and if so, what the appeal process will involve, as opposed to being relegated to the court rules.
The parties and their attorneys determine the issues to be arbitrated in advance of the hearing, such as the division of assets and liabilities, alimony, legal decision making and physical custody of children, parenting time, and child support. If custody of children is involved, arbitration of those issues will automatically result in a decision that is reviewable by the court due to New Jersey’s jurisdiction over the welfare of children within its borders.
If you are currently involved in a Family Part matter and considering arbitration as a means to resolve the family, financial, and custody issues at hand, Donahue, Hagan, Klein & Weisberg, LLC, can help. Three distinguished partners in our firm, Francis W. Donahue, Esq., Stephanie F. Hagan, Esq., and Phyllis S. Klein, Esq., are American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) trained arbitrators who receive many referrals from other lawyers and individual clients. We understand the process of divorce arbitration and can discuss with you any advantages you may have using the arbitration process.
To request a consultation, please contact us by telephone or email.
Tell us about your case and we’ll get back to you promptly.