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Can I Avoid a Long, Expensive, Contentious Court Battle if I’m Divorcing?
If you're divorcing, there are several alternative dispute resolution options available to you, and we want to share with you how you can choose the best option for your situation.
When facing the possibility of separation or divorce in a relationship, the fear of going to court can be as bad as the fear of the divorce process itself. This can create even more tension that keeps you from making a move.
Divorce usually isn’t like it is portrayed in the movies. People fear spending all their money on a long, contentious battle that turns them prematurely gray. You should know that in New Jersey, there are many ways to end a marriage that’s respectful of the relationship you’ve had and protects both parties as you move to single life and partner as co-parents, if you have children.
The simple answer to the question, “Do I have to go to court for a divorce in New Jersey?” is, “Yes.” This doesn’t mean you have to have a lengthy, expensive legal dispute the likes of which Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have made famous.
You can go to court to finalize an amicable divorce agreement that you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse have developed together, via your attorneys. There are several alternative dispute resolution options available to you, and we want to share with you how you can choose the best option for your situation.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
For many people, Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) methods may be a new piece of terminology. ADR is usually used in the divorce process if both spouses want to avoid “normal” litigation in handling their divorce. In this situation, you and your spouse have to be in agreement on most of the issues of the separation, but it can definitely help you avoid all of the pitfalls and traps of a traditional divorce case.
Ultimately, a divorce must be taken before a judge to officially dissolve your marriage. If the parties can’t come to an agreement on how to amicably settle all the issues, the judge will be the final arbiter of those issues.
The judge will determine how to split your marital assets including property, as well as what’s in the best interest of your children and their support. But you can work to resolve these prior to appearing in court. This alternate resolution typically is less expensive and more time efficient, offering you more control and less conflict.
One of the main advantages of using ADR methods is that it can take away the uncertainty and the lack of control many people feel during a divorce. In many cases, those going through a divorce feel as if they have no say—everything’s negotiated and decided on by lawyers and judges.
But in a simple divorce case (one that doesn’t involve allegations of adultery or abuse), alternative dispute resolution can be a better choice. One key component, however, is that both the parties must trust each other and agree to be honest about all aspects of the procedure.
Alternative Dispute Resolution Methods Available In New Jersey to Consider
Smedley Law Group can help you navigate Alternate Dispute Resolution avenues if you’d like to negotiate your divorce agreement amicably and on your terms.
In this situation, a third-party mediator is brought in to meet with both sides in a neutral setting. The mediator’s job isn’t to favor one person over another, and they won’t offer you legal advice, so you may still want to have your lawyer present during the mediation, although this isn’t required.
During the mediation, the mediator will help both sides identify their issues and “sticking points.” They’ll then guide both parties through the process of coming to a resolution that’s fair.
The court system encourages mediation as it helps remove cases from the dockets that might otherwise slow down the entire system. If you’re interested in using this approach, the court can give you a list of approved mediators. However, you’ll still need to send the divorce agreement to a judge for approval. This process is relatively quick and simple, though, after having gone through the mediation process.
Another ADR method you can choose to go with is arbitration. This is like mediation in that an independent third party will be brought in to help decide the issues. However, a mediator will go back and forth with the parties to negotiate a settlement to the case.
With an arbitrator, the parties waive their rights to having the court decide their case. Instead, the arbitrator will look at the issues that the two spouses agree upon and make a final decision that’s considered binding to both parties. The final decision will still have to go to a judge for final approval.
Collaborative Law Process
The collaborative law process lets you and your ex-spouse work together with your attorneys to resolve your differences without the court having to step in. With this type of solution, you may also bring in other experts to iron out the details of the divorce.
These experts may include accountants and financial advisors, marriage counselors, and therapists. These parties all work together with the understanding that this will take the place of a traditional divorce and the process will end if one or both parties file for a divorce. If they do decide to move forward with a divorce, then they must retain new legal counsel as their old attorneys from the collaborative law process can no longer represent them.
Use of Other Professionals
Just because you’re trying to avoid spending a lot of time in court doesn’t mean that you have to take on this process alone. We always recommended that you seek the help of professionals who have knowledge of the process and how to navigate it.
This certainly should include experienced, family law attorneys to protect your legal rights, but it can also include a myriad of different types of professionals including financial planners (to help with asset distribution) and family therapists (to help with child custody details).
Combinations of Alternatives
ADR solutions are not a “one-size-fits-all” resolution for a divorce. You may find that your circumstances are special, and you may need to use a combination of these techniques to meet your needs. Have a frank conversation with your Smedley Law Group attorney about your needs and how these methods can meet them.
Divorce Is Stressful, So Reduce Your Anxiety by Using the Dispute Resolution Method That Works Best for You
Divorce will always be a stressful situation. The best you can hope for is that you can lessen your stress during the process. ADR can be very helpful by offering you the following benefits:
- Lower cost
- Increased flexibility with more control of the divorce process
- Streamlined process that’s faster and more simplified
- Less trauma for children
- Ability to keep a positive relationship with your former spouse and co-parent.
Although all divorces and dissolutions in New Jersey must be formally approved by a judge, you can greatly reduce the amount of time you spend in a courtroom by using one of these Alternative Dispute Resolution methods. They can not only save you time and money, but also preserve your energy and emotional well-being at the same time.
Contact the Experienced Family Law Attorneys at Smedley Law Group in Woodbury, NJ Today
If you’re thinking about filing for divorce, you’ll also most likely be dealing with another matter like child custody, child support, or division of assets, so you’ll need to speak with a qualified attorney. The New Jersey family law attorneys at Smedley Law Group represent clients throughout the state, including West Deptford, Woodbury Heights, Runnemede, and Westville. We understand how challenging this time can be for you, which is why we will fight hard to protect your interests, and the interests of your loved ones, throughout the legal process. Call us at (856) 251-0800 or fill out our confidential contact form to schedule a consultation. We have an office conveniently located at 750 Cooper Street, Woodbury, NJ 08096.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.