What is arbitration?

Arbitration is a way of resolving disputes outside of court. In arbitration, the parties select an impartial third party, the arbitrator, to decide the issues in their case. Instead of going to court, the parties are able to present their case in the Arbitrator’s office, in a less formal, but more efficient and private manner.

When the parties to a divorce case cannot agree upon the resolution of the issues before them, they can have their issues decided by arbitration. All of the issues in a divorce case, including custody, alimony, child support, the value of a closely held business, the division of property and counsel fees can all be decided by a fair, experienced and trained Arbitrator, privately selected by the parties. In New Jersey, if certain requirements are met, even custody and parenting time can be arbitrated. Have your attorney contact our office to discuss arbitrating any/all of these issues.

Who can be an Arbitrator?

The Arbitrator can be anyone the parties select. Usually the parties select an Arbitrator whom they deem to be a fair and experienced person. The parties should be guided by their attorneys to select an Arbitrator with a background in family law and experience in the arbitration process. The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) specifically trains professionals to conduct divorce arbitration as Arbitrators. Ms. Cores is an AAML Certified Arbitrator.

What is the difference between arbitration and mediation?

In mediation, the parties discuss a resolution with the mediator and try to come to a mutually acceptable agreement. If the parties do not agree on a resolution of the issues, then the mediation is a failure. In arbitration, the Arbitrator decides the case.

How does divorce arbitration work?

What the parties wish to arbitrate is put into an agreement at the beginning of the process. Then the parties present their case to the Arbitrator just as they would present a case to a judge. At the end the arbitration, the Arbitrator issues an Award which sets forth a decision. The parties may agree in advance that the Arbitration Award will be binding and not subject to appeal. This provides finality which may not exist in court proceedings. The parties present the arbitration Award to the court through a formal process and consistent with the statute.  The court will then accept the Award and issue a Judgment of Divorce incorporating the decisions in the Award or simply attach the Award to a judgment as an exhibit.

Why should I arbitrate my divorce case?

Arbitration allows parties to resolve important but difficult, and usually emotionally charged, problems in their lives in a private setting in a fair and efficient manner. It offers the potential to resolve a divorce case in a faster and less expensive proceeding than a trial in the Family Court. The parties can decide how the case will move forward, and they control the location, timing and even the rules of the arbitration proceedings.

How does arbitration differ from litigation?

In litigation, the parties are assigned a judge. They must comply with court requirements and procedures. At the end of the process, which is often a year or more in length, they present their cases in the public courtroom to be decided by the judge. If either party is dissatisfied, they have the right to appeal the judge’s decision. The appeal process may take another year, or more, and if successful could result in another trial before the trial court judge. Arbitration resolves cases in a private setting, usually in a faster, more efficient way, and therefore is often less expensive than a trial.

What are some specific areas that can be arbitrated without necessarily arbitrating the entire matter?

Typically, some costly areas such as child custody, alimony or business valuation can specifically be addressed through arbitration. Most anything can be singled out for arbitration, if the need arises. Additionally, if the case is presently in litigation motions can be submitted to an arbitrator, with the award being memorialized as a court order. This is often a faster and more comprehensive process than waiting almost a month to have an issue decided by a judge.

Amy profile picture Amy Sara Cores, ESQ.
Founder & Partner


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