Alternative Dispute Resolution

New Jersey Family Law Attorneys

What is Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)?

Alternative Dispute Resolution refers to a method of resolving disputes without resorting to litigation. Some of the most common methods of settling disputes without litigation include (1) negotiation, (2) mediation, and (3) arbitration. These methods of resolving disputes are sometimes preferred to litigation as they are more cost effective and confidential than the litigation process. These methods are also intended to promote participation and communication between parties and avoid hostility.

Negotiation

Negotiation is usually the first step parties will take to resolve a dispute. This involves the parties communicating with each other in order to reach a resolution that will be agreed upon by all those involved. One of the major benefits of resolving disputes by negotiation is that is allows the parties to maintain control over the outcome.

Mediation

Depending on the circumstances of the situation, mediation may be an appropriate method of attempting to resolve a dispute. In this method, a trained mediator will help the parties communicate with each other to reach a resolution. The mediator is a neutral party who does not have an interest in the outcome of the case. At the conclusion of mediation, the parties may choose to either accept or reject any proposal that may have been developed to resolve the dispute. If the terms are agreed upon, that resolution will be memorialized in a writing, signed by the parties, and will become legally binding.

Mediation has become increasingly common as a way of resolving issues that arise between neighbors, family members, and business partners. However, it may not be an appropriate method in situations where one party has a significant advantage over another. Moreover, it should be noted that even after a lawsuit has been filed, the New Jersey court system may require the parties to mediate their dispute while that litigation is pending.

Arbitration

Arbitration is another dispute-resolving technique that has become increasingly common. Many businesses prefer to use arbitration for the efficiency and convenience it provides. Arbitration operates much like litigation in that similar procedures are used, and the dispute is decided by a judge, called an arbitrator, who the parties can choose. However, arbitration is generally more cost effective and private than litigation.

Arbitration involves a less stringent discovery process than traditional litigation. Depending on the circumstances of the situation, this may be beneficial. However, for some disputes, the lack of transparency in the arbitration process can make some feel that the process may be biased. Unlike traditional litigation, there is no appeals process in arbitration. The arbitrator's award is final. As such, should a party disagree with that award, there is no appeal, nor is there an available remedy if the arbitrator has made a mistake in his or her ruling.

If you are considering an alternative method of resolving your dispute, contact an experienced attorney who can help you decide if ADR is right for your situation. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Hunziker, Jones & Sweeney are skilled in the areas of negotiation, mediation, and arbitration as well as other areas of alternative dispute resolution. Call (973) 256-0456 or fill out our contact form for a consultation.

Mediation and Arbitration in Family Law Cases

Alternative dispute resolution has become increasingly common over the last several years to resolve many issues comprising the terms of divorce and separation agreements, as well as child custody. By mediating such issues, the parties involved are encouraged to communicate with each other openly and honestly to reach an agreement.

In New Jersey, all matters involving custody and parenting time must be mediated. Divorce or parenting mediation can be tailored to the needs of the parents. In resolving these issues, a trained mediator views each family as unique and helps the couple sort out the specifics of their situation. The mediator will tailor a plan that considers the needs of the children along with those of the parents.

The New Jersey Family courts provide parenting time and custody mediators free of charge. Typically, the custody mediator will be able to develop a parenting plan that addresses the parties' immediate needs. The benefits of negotiating with the assistance of the court provide mediators are multifold and a plan may be created for the family that fits either their temporary or long term needs. Once a plan is memorialized, it is submitted to the Court for formalization.

Since 2007, economic mediation in marital disputes is required in every court proceeding prior to trial. Prior to filing a Complaint for Divorce, the attorney is required to discuss mediation with the client, and offer it as an option. Once a divorce action is commenced, the court may require the couple to take part in economic mediation. Unlike parenting mediation, the parties are required to pay for the mediators who provide assistance to the court.

With the help of professionals, couples negotiate their own settlement and learn the techniques for resolving future differences. Mediation is one of the ways separating or divorcing couples can retain control over the decisions affecting their lives while keeping their children from getting caught in the middle.

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Hunziker, Jones & Sweeney are skilled in providing clients with high quality representation in family law matters whether they pursue the avenue of litigation or an alternative avenue of dispute resolution. If you are going through a divorce or considering going through a divorce, call (973) 256-0456 or fill out our contact form for a consultation.

Probate and Mediation

Mediation has become an important step in the dispute resolution process in contested probate matters. Protracted litigation will be time-consuming and expensive. Typically it is because a loved one has recently died or is not being appropriately care for in the eyes of one or more of the litigants involved. Therefore, in the probate area, this type of litigation can be very emotional.

Mediation also helps to resolve some of the stress and anxiety involved in these types of proceedings. Many cases are brought by what is perceived as simple lack of communication or perceived secrecy by one party. In many contested guardianship cases, the family dynamics are the driving force of the conflict. A mediator may be able to address family concerns, such as access to medical and financial information for the party who is not serving in the role of caretaker or guardian. Many times, these matters can easily be resolved once access is provided. Additionally, fostering continued access to the elderly ward or disabled party may also be important. A mediator may be able to resolve issues concerning visitation by establishing parameters for visits in the caretaker’s home or outside of it.

If a will is contested, the courts typically utilize mediation once a limited amount of discovery has taken place. After paper discovery and before depositions have been taken, the attorneys and their clients have enough information available to them to discuss the merits of the case. Mediators who are experienced in probate matters are able to help negotiate and structure a resolution that will benefit all parties.

If you have a contested probate matter, contact an attorney who has the skills and experienced in this area. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Hunziker, Jones & Sweeney have years experience handling mediated probate matters. Call (973) 256-0456 or fill out our contact form for a consultation.