Our goal for New Jersey Divorce Arbitration, both binding and non-binding, is to provide legally sustainable, thoughtful decisions to parties who cannot settle all of their issues cooperatively. One key advantage of New Jersey Divorce Arbitration — which makes it more desirable than a judicial decision — is cost containment.
Arbitration also provides the parties with the freedom to choose the person who will be deciding their case. Needless disruption of work schedules can also be eliminated by avoiding the necessity of multiple court appearances. Sensitive issues, such as unreported income, can also be addressed in Arbitration.
Required Commitment. No commitment to the mediation process is demanded. Participation in the process must be entirely voluntary to be effective. We will never do anything to compel parties to stay in the mediation or in any other ADR engagement against their will, with the sole exception of binding Arbitration of economic issues, which involves a binding contract.
Using Consultants, Including Consulting Lawyers. Consultation with lawyers or other technical experts is always invited. Their level of direct involvement with the parties in the mediation process itself varies with the requirements and dimensions of the particular case.
“Fact & Feeling Channel” Communications. We believe, in handling family disputes, that the necessary level of result-based orientation be suitably balanced with the importance of the parties dealing with each other and in understanding what is really at stake in the conflict. The parties must be able to communicate directly with each other.
Out-of-Session Debates. While we will always attempt to give our clients a balanced view that respects their primacy as decision makers, we also caution our clients of the dangers that can arise from dealing with each other on tough issues without someone else present to moderate the process.
Deadlocks. Another positive attribute of mediated decision-making, as opposed to agreements struck under the gun on the day of trial, is that agreements can be structured without coercion. Mediation will give the parties enough room to thoroughly explore their disagreements. This avoids the tendency to settle for “meat-axe” style solutions that might not last or be as mutually satisfying to the parties as other possibilities requiring greater understanding to develop.
New Jersey Uniform Arbitration Act of 2000
New Jersey adopted a modified version of the Uniform Arbitration Act of 2000 proposed by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws when N.J.S.A. 2A:23B-1 et. seq. was passed, effective January 1, 2003. The primary purpose of the bill, according to the Assembly Judiciary Committee, was to “… advance arbitration as a desirable alternative to litigation and to clarify arbitration procedures in light of the developments of the law in this area.” To date, eleven jurisdictions in addition to New Jersey have adopted the Uniform Arbitration Act, either in its entirety, or with some modifications.
Currently, in addition to the Uniform Act, New Jersey still maintains N.J.S.A. 2A:24-1 et. seq., which was enacted in 1923; the original legislative authority for arbitration in New Jersey. However, this original statute has been limited by N.J.S.A. 2A:24-1.1, effective January 1, 2003, to “… an arbitration or dispute arising from a collective bargaining agreement or a collectively negotiated agreement.” Section 32 of the Uniform Act also indicates that it does not apply to the substance and procedure of the New Jersey Alternative Procedure for Dispute Resolution Act, N.J.S.A. 2A:23A-1 et. seq.
Sections 3 and 31 of the Uniform Act provide that the Act applies to all agreements to arbitrate made on or after January 1, 2003, with the exception of arbitrations between an employer and an elected employee representative under a collective bargaining agreement or collectively negotiated agreement, and it also may govern agreements to arbitrate made before January 1, 2003, if all of the parties agree.
Most importantly, Section 3 of the Uniform Act provides that, on or after January 1, 2005, it governs arbitration agreements whenever they have been made, with the exception of collective bargaining or collective negotiated agreements. The net result of the Uniform Act as to matrimonial matters is that it provides the primary authority to be followed when the parties decide to arbitrate rather than litigate the dispute.
The Matrimonial Trial Lawyers Section of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America (ATLA), New Jersey Branch, is working on drafting legislation known as the New Jersey Family Law Arbitration Act, which is based on the Model Act promulgated by the American Academy of Matrimonial Attorneys (AAML), which would be specific as to family matters.
An attorney agreeing to submit their clients divorce case to arbitration pursuant to the Uniform Act should be aware of all of the Act’s provisions and should particularly know – with the exception of certain provisions of the Act – that a party may waive or vary many sections of the Act. Section 4 specifically provides that the parties may expand the scope of judicial review of an arbitration award.