A CURE FOR YOUR PANDEMIC BACKLOGGED DIVORCE OR OTHER FAMILY LAW MATTER
Since the pandemic began, the backlog on cases in the New Jersey court system have more than doubled. Case backlogs are growing fastest in the Family Part. According to the Administrative Office of the Courts, which monitors this data, the backlog in non-dissolution family part cases grew by 531%, from 502 cases in May 2019 to 3,170 this May. The backlog of domestic violence cases statewide increased from 231 in May 2019 to 1,370 in May 2020. In divorce cases, the backlogs grew 70%, from 1,185 cases in May 2019 to 2,016 this May. So, how does a person looking to get divorced, or to resolve a post-judgment divorce case, custody, alimony, child support or other family law case get to a resolution? How can you avoid being stuck in this backlog?
The answer is simple: by mediating or arbitrating the dispute. We are, and have been, doing this by videoconferencing utilizing the Zoom platform. We have helped a lot of people get their matters resolved outside of the courts, through mediation during this time.
You probably know what mediation and arbitration are, but if you don’t, click here for an explanation of those two alternate dispute resolution options.
Here is how we mediate and\or arbitrate by videoconferencing:
- First we set a date for the mediation or arbitration that works for all parties, working around everyone’s schedule. Our office sends a Zoom invitation to appear on the date set.
- Counsel and each of the parties accepts the invitation for the Zoom meeting.
- On the date set, our office, as the host, starts the mediation and each counsel and each party join the videoconference from a desktop or laptop computer, an iPad or iPhone or even just by phone if that is all they have available. If you join by any method, other than just by phone, you should join with video and with audio so that everyone can be seen and heard.
- Following introductory remarks about the process we are engaging in that day, we will typically meet with the attorneys in a breakout room first and put the participants back in the waiting room.
- After meeting with the attorneys to address preliminary issues, we will then bring everyone back into the conference again.
- If we are mediating, we will break out each side into a breakout room and then we can go from room to room to mediate as we try to help the parties reach a resolution. For the most part, the parties will not work directly with each other, so if you don’t want to see the other side, you don’t have to. Instead, the mediator will go back and forth between breakout rooms.
- If we are arbitrating, everyone stays in the main room and we can have a court reporter join in the process or the Zoom session can be recorded for transcription later. Any witnesses can be sent an invitation as well and be in the waiting room, ready to testify, as the arbitration proceeds.
- In either process, we can share documents by sharing the screen or by email. Documents can also be pre-marked and sent to everyone via courier or mail or even electronic delivery – drop box or otherwise.
- In mediation, the mediator can be working on the MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) or other document memorializing any resolution as the mediation proceeds.
- In arbitration, the arbitrator can be keeping notes and has access to the recordings of sessions so as to review testimony when they are working on their decision which can then be emailed to the parties and\or counsel.
Where courts are scheduling matters out over a month in advance and complicated cases can sometimes take years to resolve, we are working to schedule our matters as quickly as possible. Our goal is to resolve even the most complicated cases within a matter of months, not years. Our practice has years of experience in mediation, and Judge Nergaard spent nearly a decade on the bench deciding matrimonial and civil matters fairly, after fully considering the arguments of both sides. If you don’t want to be caught in the backlog, which is likely to continue and increase, consider arbitration or mediation for resolution of your matter, or even a pending motion. If you have additional questions about the process or would like to retain us to mediate or arbitrate your dispute, please call us at (973) 292-9222 or e-mail . We remain committed to helping our clients during this time and are here “Daly” for you.