What Is Divorce Arbitration?
If you're considering getting a divorce, you may have heard of divorce arbitration. This is a process where a neutral third party hears both sides of the case and makes a decision based on the evidence presented. Although it can be faster and cheaper than going to court, there are some important things to know about divorce arbitration before you make a decision.
Keep reading for three things you should know about divorce arbitration before moving forward.
#1: Arbitration Is Not the Same Thing as Mediation
Although arbitration and mediation may initially seem similar, they are two different processes. Arbitration is a type of dispute resolution method that involves an arbitration hearing with a third-party arbitrator. The arbitration hearing process is more formal than mediation, allowing for admissible evidence to be presented and witnesses to be questioned. Depending on the nature of the arbitration case, the arbitration hearing can occur in a court or more informal setting.
Arbitration may be appropriate for you if:
- You and your spouse struggle to communicate
- Your divorce process has been marked by significant conflict and animosity
- You have been unsuccessful with other alternative dispute resolution methods
- You want to avoid litigation
On the other hand, mediation is viewed as more of an informal discussion between two parties with the assistance of a mediator. It's less adversarial in nature since it focuses on finding shared solutions that meet both parties’ needs. Whether you opt for arbitration or mediation will depend largely on your overall goals and objectives.
#2: Arbitration Agreements May Be Binding
Generally speaking, the judge's final decision in a divorce arbitration case is final. However, some couples may elect to include an appeals process or method for seeking an alternative outcome if they dislike what the arbitrator decides. Because the outcome of arbitration has the potential to be legally binding, it is incredibly important that couples considering arbitration fully understand all aspects of their arbitration agreement before signing. As such, it is always recommended that you consult with dedicated legal counsel prior to moving forward with arbitration.
#3: Arbitration Is More Private than Litigation
Many couples want to avoid divorce litigation because of its very public nature. All aspects of their divorce brought up during litigation will be brought into the public record, potentially affecting their reputations. Arbitration gives divorcing parties a more private divorce option while also providing an expedited process with the potential for a more satisfactory resolution.
Other benefits of divorce arbitration include the following:
- The ability to select the specific arbitrator you want to work with
- The ability to choose the specific time and location of the arbitration hearing
- A potentially less expensive process when compared to litigation
- More control over the specific topics being addressed
When to Consult with an Attorney
While divorce arbitration is a good option for many people, it is not the only one. Consequently, it is important that you speak with your attorney and make sure that arbitration truly makes sense for your situation. It's also worth noting that while arbitration frequently provides a quicker resolution than litigation, the scheduling of arbitration hearings is typically six to 12 months out. As such, you and your ex-partner may have other, more expeditious options that are worth considering.
Are you considering arbitrating your divorce agreement or other family law matter? Before agreeing to arbitration, you should consult with an experienced family law attorney like ours at DeTommaso Law Group. Our attorneys can review your case and help determine if arbitration is in your best interests.