What Is Arbitration?
Arbitration is a form of alternative dispute resolution that allows the parties to handle claims outside of court. Courts have recognized the benefits of arbitration in providing litigants with a potentially final, expeditious, inexpensive, and efficient substitution for the conventional court process. Generally, almost any civil lawsuit may be resolved through arbitration, including divorce cases and other family law matters.
Unlike other alternative methods of dispute resolution—such as mediation and collaborative law—arbitration is a more formal process. Arbitration is structured closer to a formal trial, where a neutral party—known as the “arbitrator”—serves a role more similar to a judge. Unlike mediators, arbitrators are responsible for making decisions that can legally bind the parties.
In some cases, arbitration can be relatively less expensive than court proceedings. However, arbitration proceedings are not required to abide by the rules of evidence or even legal precedent.
Aspects of Arbitration
The New Jersey Arbitration Act governs arbitration proceedings for civil cases under New Jersey law. Under the New Jersey Arbitration Act, arbitration proceedings begin with an arbitration agreement—a contract between litigants where they agree to submit their legal dispute to arbitration proceedings instead of the civil justice system.
Under New Jersey Law, arbitration agreements must explicitly state the following:
- “That the parties understand their right to a judicial adjudication of their dispute and are willing to waive that right;
- That the parties are aware of the limited circumstances under which a challenge to the Arbitration Award may be advanced and agree to those limitations;
- That the parties have had sufficient time to consider the implications of their decision to Arbitrate; and
- That the parties have entered into the Arbitration Agreement freely and voluntarily, after due consideration of the consequences of doing so.”
An arbitration agreement is the main authoritative source governing the parties’ dispute. Accordingly, principles of contract interpretation and law apply to conflicts arising from the provisions of an arbitration agreement. However, courts are prohibited from modifying or reforming the terms of an arbitration agreement to increase the scope of the proceedings.
New Jersey Court Rule 5:1-5
In addition to the New Jersey Arbitration Act, Rule 5:1-5 of the New Jersey Rules of Court authorizes arbitration as a method of resolving virtually all legal matters stemming from New Jersey family law, subject to a few exceptions.
New Jersey Court Rule 5:1-5 does not apply to the following family law proceedings:
- “The entry of the final judgment or annulment or dissolution of a relationship
- actions involving the DCPP
- domestic violence actions
- juvenile delinquency actions
- family crisis actions
- adoption actions”
Contact DeTommaso Law Group for More Information
Family law disputes can be notoriously intense and costly. However, the stakes are often high in such cases because of the personal nature of many family law issues. If you are looking for quality legal advice regarding a family law matter—including whether arbitration or another type of alternative dispute resolution method is appropriate in your case—you should contact DeTommaso Law Group to consult a member of our experienced legal team.
To learn more about your rights and responsibilities concerning a family law case arising from New Jersey law, please contact DeTommaso Law Group online or call us at (908) 274-3028 to schedule a consultation today.