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Differences Between Divorce Litigation & Alternative Dispute Resolution Processes

What are the main differences between divorce litigation and one of the alternative dispute resolution (ADR) processes (mediation, arbitration, or collaborative divorce)?

Michele E. D’Onofrio’s Answer:

Litigation utilizes the New Jersey courts to resolve the issues of a divorce or family law proceeding.

Mediation, arbitration, and collaborative divorce are all different types of alternative dispute resolution.

In mediation, a trained, impartial and neutral person called a “mediator” is retained by the parties. The mediator does not represent either party but assists the parties in reaching a mutually acceptable resolution of the dispute. Mediation leaves control of the outcome within the parties’ hands.

In arbitration, a trained, impartial and neutral person called an “arbitrator” is selected retained by the parties to hear arguments and evidence from each side and render a decision to the dispute much the same as a Judge in a Court would do. The parties and their attorneys will spell out the role of the arbitrator and the rules of the arbitration in a written agreement beforehand.

Collaborative divorce is a method of practicing law in which the lawyers for the parties agree to assist the clients to resolve conflicts by employing cooperative techniques rather than adversarial strategies and litigation. If litigation is commenced during the Collaborative process by one of the participants, all attorneys and experts are relieved of representation and the parties need to retain new counsel for the litigation process.

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