Until relatively recently, there has only been one way to resolve a difficult New Jersey divorce case: file a Divorce Complaint and fight it out in the New Jersey Family Court system. This is called “litigation.”
In the litigation process, if the parties cannot agree on a reasonable settlement, they are required to endure the litigation process for more than a year—and often longer—until the case can be reached for trial by a New Jersey Family Court Judge with an already overwhelming caseload.
Even then, trials frequently extend over several weeks—and often months–because Judges simply do not have the time to try a divorce case more than one or two partial days at a time, due to their other responsibilities.
Fortunately, there are now Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) processes, such as Mediation and Collaborative Divorce Practice, which are much better choices than traditional litigation in many New Jersey divorce cases.
Arbitration is a third ADR process which some couples are now choosing to use in their New Jersey divorce cases. The essence of Arbitration is the parties’ agreement to use a “private judge” (called an Arbitrator)–rather than the Superior Court Judge–to make binding decisions on some or all issues.
The New Jersey Supreme Court’s Family Practice Committee has now taken it a step further, by recommending a Court Rule change which would create a special Arbitration Track for divorce cases that have already started in the court system.
After a New Jersey divorce case is filed, the Court now assigns that case to one of four (4) “tracks,” based on its expected level of complexity and whether child custody appears to be a genuine issue. Those tracks are: (1) Standard; (2) Complex; (3) Priority; and (4) Expedited.
The proposed New Jersey Court Rule change would add a fifth track: Arbitration. If the parties agree to arbitrate their case, they would have a year to resolve their issues in Arbitration and that time period could be extended upon a showing of “good cause.”
Is Arbitration a better option than Litigation in many New Jersey divorce cases? Next week’s Blog will discuss that issue. Stay tuned.
Salvaggio Law Group LLC devotes its entire practice to New Jersey Divorce and Family Law matters. If you have any questions, please call us at 973-855-3595 or fill out the Contact Form on our website.