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Understanding the difference between mediation and arbitration

On Behalf of | Aug 3, 2017 | Divorce

Most people living in Passaic County and Essex County in New Jersey know that there is currently a stay in place for all divorce proceedings. What does that mean, exactly? For couples who know their marriage is over, this stay means that traditional, court-based divorces are not an option.

Thankfully, there are options for ending a marriage that don’t involve New Jersey family courts. More couples are looking to mediation as an option to ending an unhappy marriage. The idea of mediation can confuse many, as people often don’t understand the difference between mediation and arbitration. The two are very different from one another. Mediation is empowering, giving couples complete control over the process. Arbitration is entirely different and more similar to the standard divorce process.

Arbitration gives all the power to a third party

Like in a court room where the judge is in control, the assigned arbitrator holds all the power during the arbitration process. Both sides present evidence and testimony. The arbitrator then reviews this information and makes a decision. Typically, these decisions are legally binding. For couples divorcing, arbitration is much the same as having a judge decide critical issues like custody, support and asset division.

While the arbitrator is typically a neutral third party, it can be frustrating to be in a situation where someone else has all the power. Many times both parties in an arbitration situation are unhappy with the outcome, which they had no control over.

Mediation empowers the couple to make decisions

Like arbitration, mediation involves the help of a neutral third party. The major difference is that a mediator is there to help you and your spouse work through issues, compromise and reach mutually agreeable decisions about critical issues. A mediator can lead the process, intervene if emotions get high and help both parties find a way to compromise.

However, the mediator does not have the power to make decisions. All decision-making power rests with the couple undergoing mediation. If you can put aside emotional issues and focus on practical concerns, you and your former spouse can use mediation to complete a divorce while the courts are not hearing divorce cases. You can also use this process to find a workable compromise for both your asset division and custody concerns.

Mediation can help with future co-parenting

Those with no children can dissolve their marriage and move on with their lives. Those with minor children, however, will have to interact with one another regularly for years. Mediation can help you and your spouse address some of your issues. This can make it easier for you to interact as co-parents after your divorce get finalized. Once you have resolved the issues or found a way to move past them, you will likely be able to maintain a healthier relationship with your former spouse.


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