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When your family needs privacy, go to arbitration instead of going to Court

On behalf of Cohn Lifland Pearlman Herrmann & Knopf LLP | Mar 10, 2019 |

Amanda S. Trigg is trained by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers as a Family Law Arbitrator.

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Photo credit to Unsplash & @usinglight.

Everyone worries about privacy, passwords, social media security settings, data breaches and sale of our personal information by data mining companies. When we go into the public courthouse during a divorce or other family law problems, we must openly disclose personal information, losing control over who knows important things about us. Why do that, instead of using the confidential option of family arbitration for divorces, custody cases and other domestic disputes?

Arbitration protects against that risk. As an Arbitrator, or as an attorney representing a client in an arbitration, I believe that everyone should think about whether they really want to be in an open courtroom to handle their personal problems, name their children, and explain their sensitive financial documents in a courtroom where anyone could walk in, at any time.

Arbitration gives your privacy to resolve any dispute, including family problems, by leaving the open courtroom and going behind closed doors at a law office. There, the “judge” is the Arbitrator chosen by the parties, and there, everyone enjoys the security of knowing that none of the family’s information can be shared beyond those walls. By choosing Arbitration, husband and wives, mothers and fathers, choose to privately adjudicate the disputes that would otherwise be decided by a Judge in the courthouse.

Children’s privacy triggers real concern. In court, parents accidentally tell the entire word all of the factoids of their own children’s “security questions” for on-line accounts. Parents give out their children’s first and middle names, dates of birth, teachers’ names, schools attended by the children, descriptions of the cars that older children drive, the name of the street where the family lives. Parents trying to win a custody battle tell all about their children’s favorite activities, favorite colors, favorite ice cream flavors. This unnecessarily risks the child’s future privacy. Think about which sounds better: taking the witness stand in the public courtroom to tell all about your kids, or going into a closed conference room, with just you, your co-parent, your lawyers and the Arbitrator, to privately explain what you believe is best for your children.

Litigating requires filing financial documents with the Court. In New Jersey, we have “open records,” even in divorce, and court files are open to anyone who asks to see them. In family law cases, most personal financial documents are protected, and identifying information like social security numbers redacted. Still, your personal tax returns, pay stubs, insurance information, household budget and other highly sensitive financial documents remain in the Court’s files for years, out of your control and within reach of other people. At the end of an Arbitration, all of that important information can be returned to you for safekeeping.

Arbitration may be perfect for you or for a family that matters to you. Contact me at [email protected] or 201-845-9600, at Cohn Lifland Pearlman Herrmann & Knopf, LLP, to learn more about the how to protect your family and your privacy.