Mediation vs. Arbitration: What’s the Difference?
Not all successful divorces require going to court. In fact, most cases don’t go to trial. Divorce cases have a lot of moving parts, and often settle in pieces. This complex process can involve litigation, mediation, arbitration, or a combination of different strategies.
You can use arbitration or mediation to settle a specific issue within a divorce (i.e., custody, division of property, spousal support, etc.), and let the courts determine the rest. Alternatively, you can use arbitration or mediation to settle the entire divorce from start to finish.
Mediation, arbitration, and collaborative divorce are more private, more flexible, and often less expensive than litigation. All three approaches are great options for people who want to handle their divorce privately, outside of the courts.
What is Arbitration?
Arbitration involves both spouses, their respective attorneys, and a neutral third party to act as a judge. The arbitrator is selected by both parties. The process resembles a private, informal trial: Both spouses have an opportunity to give their side of the story, call witnesses, and provide supporting evidence. The arbitrator then evaluates the arguments, and makes a final decision.
Arbitration can be legally binding, if both parties agree to those terms beforehand.
What is Mediation?
Like arbitration, mediation involves both spouses, their respective attorneys, and a neutral third party. The mediator is selected by both parties. Unlike arbitration, there is no final decision handed down from the third party. The mediator is tasked with facilitating the process, and encouraging productive negotiation.
The mediation process ends when an agreement is reached, or negotiations breaks down. The process is more informal than arbitration, and is not legally binding.
What is Collaborative Divorce?
The collaborative process gives families complete control over the negotiation. While collaborative divorce is not as widely-recognized as mediation and arbitration, it is highly effective. Almost 90 percent of collaborative cases settle with an agreement on all issues, according to recent studies.
Collaborative divorce involves both parties, their respective lawyers, and a multidisciplinary team of professionals in a safe, structured environment. Both sides enter the negotiation with the understanding that nobody “wins” a divorce. Ground rules are mutually-agreed upon in a Participation Agreement, in which both sides pledge a commitment to transparency, honesty, good faith, and the best interests of their children.
When all issues are resolved, a Settlement Agreement is prepared by the attorneys. This agreement becomes legally binding after each party testifies they understand and agree to the terms at a brief hearing with a judge.
Hire an Attorney Specializing in New Jersey Divorce and Family Law
Whether you plan to pursue litigation or an alternative method of conflict resolution, you should always hire an attorney focused exclusively on family law.
Your divorce settlement will determine the course of the rest of your life- the stakes could not be higher. Hire a trusted family law expert who specializes in New Jersey divorce to get the settlement you deserve.
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