4 min read
Does an Alternative Dispute Resolution Method Like Mediation Actually Work to Avoid Heavy Legal Fees and Divorce Court?
You’ve discussed with your spouse the hard truth that your marriage is over. You both agree that divorce is the next right step for both of you. Neither of you is interested in a lengthy, expensive, and contentious legal battle. So can an alternative dispute resolution process, where you avoid going to court, really work? Let’s discuss everything you should know about this option.
Here’s What Alternative Dispute Resolution Actually Is
In its simplest form, alternative dispute resolution (ADR) means processes that keep your case out of the courtroom. In New Jersey, this means using mediation, arbitration, or collaborative law.
The goal of each method of ADR is to:
- Keep the case from going to court
- Keep costs lower than going to court
- Ultimately, determine a way to resolve all aspects of a divorce amicably outside of the courtroom.
Instances You’d Use ADR, or Mediation, for Your Divorce
There are many aspects of family law that can be resolved using ADR. These can include:
- Divorce-related finances such as asset division
- Child-custody issues including parenting schedules and grandparent visitation
- Requirements for college contributions
- Modifications of previous arrangements such as alimony/child support and custody.
Why Doesn’t Everyone Choose Mediation for Their Divorce?
Mediation, and really any ADR method, works best for those couples who are ready to agree on the terms of their divorce. One thing both parties must understand going into the process is that mediation isn’t final or legally binding. If you feel unhappy with the mediation results, you can still take your case to a family court and have a judge make a final decision.
So, if you have any reason to feel that your soon-to-be-ex won’t comply or will be unreasonable in negotiations, alternative dispute resolution may not work for your case. The good news is that an experienced and successful family law attorney who practices ADR will know which cases are best for mediation and will let you know if your case doesn’t meet those criteria.
If You’re Both United in a Goal, This Can Lead to Successful Arbitration
Your case will likely be a good candidate for alternative dispute resolution if you both want to gain these benefits:
- Lower total cost due to no court fees
- Greater flexibility, especially with scheduling
- Greater control over the process by keeping it out of the courts
- Faster resolution and simplified procedures
- More privacy than an open courtroom and official record
- Less distress for the children involved
- The ability to maintain a better relationship with your ex especially as it pertains to co-parenting.
Ask yourself if you both can overwhelmingly agree that you want to keep the kids out of the drama and frustrations of the courtroom. Perhaps you’re both resolute in keeping your personal information private and, keeping it out of the courtroom, works for you.
Or perhaps you both realize just how important co-parenting is. Understanding that by avoiding the courts, you’ll avoid most of the aspects of divorce that can harm your relationship with each other, as well as your kids. You’ll be able to move on through the already difficult task of getting through a divorce much more quickly, helping all involved to heal faster.
How Do I Find an Experienced and Successful Alternative Dispute Resolution Attorney?
One of the biggest issues that will have a huge impact on your ADR process will be the selection of your mediator, or arbitrator. Both you and your ex must agree on the moderator before the process can begin.
But to help with this process, you have a few options. First, your attorney will have a list of mediators and arbitrators they’ve used in the past. But the family court can also assign a mediator to your case if you wish.
You might believe you can save more money by not having an attorney representing you through the ADR process. This could be a big mistake. Mediators are meant to be neutral in the process. That means they aren’t looking out for your best interest (or your spouse’s). Their only role is to facilitate agreement on both sides so that everyone is in agreement.
It also means they won’t give you any legal advice. Having an attorney is the only way to make sure that you have someone on your side who’ll give you the help that you need to make decisions in your best interests.
Alternative dispute resolutions are generally an effective way to handle non-contentious divorce proceedings. It’s a great way to begin your co-parenting journey as well as to make the process of divorce less damaging for all involved. Moreover, arbitration can be very effective at saving you money and stress in the process.
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, who can advise you about ADR. The expert 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.