Family law arbitration is a faster, less costly way to resolve divorce issues in New Jersey.
Resolving contested family law issues through arbitration is an increasingly attractive option for individuals and families across New Jersey. In 1984, The New Jersey Supreme Court held that arbitration clauses in separation agreements are enforceable and that arbitration is an acceptable alternative to family law litigation. Faherty v. Faherty, 97 N.J. 99 (1984). In 2009, the New Jersey Supreme Court expanded upon its holding in Faherty and held that child custody and parenting time could also be resolved through arbitration. Fawzy v. Fawzy 199 N.J. 456 (2009).
Advantages of arbitration
There are two primary reasons why family law arbitration has found favor with New Jersey litigants. First, as trial courts have become increasingly burdened, it can take an extremely long time for a judge to hear a family law case. It may be many months or even years before a family law case will go to trial. From an emotional and financial perspective, it is not good to let these issues go unresolved for a lengthy period of time. Arbitration can help parties expedite the resolution of child custody, property division, spousal support (alimony) and other issues. This will help individuals move forward to the next phase of their lives. By choosing arbitration, the parties can avoid some of the expense associated with protracted litigation as well.
Arbitration also gives the parties a greater degree of control over how their divorce or other family issues will be resolved. The parties will select an arbitrator, typically an experienced family lawyer. The arbitrator is an impartial observer who should have substantial family law experience. Parties can also tailor the time, the location and the ground rules of the arbitration to their needs and schedules.
Binding or non-binding arbitration
The parties will also decide whether arbitration will be binding or non-binding. In binding arbitration, the arbitrator’s decision is final, subject to limited grounds of appeal. In non-binding arbitration, the parties are free to accept or reject the arbitrator’s recommendation. If either party rejects the arbitrator’s recommendation, they are free to bring their dispute before a judge.
Generally, arbitration will proceed in similar fashion as a courtroom hearing, with each party presenting evidence to support their positions. After reviewing and analyzing the evidence, the arbitrator will decide the issues of the case.
It is not surprising that arbitration is considered a favorable alternative to litigation, particularly when parties have significantly different positions on the issues in their case. For years, individuals across New Jersey have put their trust in the Warren-based law firm of Shimalla, Wechsler, Lepp & D’Onofrio, LLP.
A number of our attorneys are qualified to serve as arbitrators in family law cases. Furthermore, our attorneys have successfully represented clients in arbitration, mediation and other forms of alternative dispute resolution. Our collective experience, knowledge, and skill have made a difference for people facing a broad range of family law issues.