Arbitration in Divorce Proceedings

Arbitration is another alternative dispute resolution method in which parties agree to have a third party judge, called an arbitrator, hear the case and render a legally binding decision that both parties must abide by. Instead of participating in an official legal proceeding held in court, the parties meet, with their respective counsel and the arbitrator in a private setting and a hearing is conducted before the arbitrator.

Pros and Cons

The entire arbitration process tends to be more cost efficient than legal proceedings. Parties can agree to what rules the arbitrator will apply, with most foregoing the strict application of rules of evidence, due to their complicated and time consuming nature. This can make the process go much more quickly and a decision can be rendered immediately. Additionally, many parties are drawn to the practice because of its privacy. Arbitration proceedings are not public and the documents are not publicly accessible information like other family court documents. Lastly, many couples appreciate the ability to pick their arbitrator to decide the case. Some arbitrators specialize in specific areas and depending on what is important to the proceeding, the parties have the opportunity to pick an arbitrator who has dealt with similar cases.

There are some downfalls to arbitration, depending on how you view the decision. When one party is not happy with the decisions of the court, they can appeal an order or judgment, however binding arbitration generally not appealable. This is done in order to have the parties move forward with their lives and cut off the cycle of ongoing legal proceedings. There are a few situations in which an arbitration decision can be appealed, but they are very limited, and require the party to meet a tough burden of proof.

How is it Different From Mediation?

Some couples choose to participate in divorce mediation instead of arbitration or court proceedings. Mediation involves another third party, known as a mediator, who assists the parties in negotiating a fair outcome, but does not have any legally binding authority to render a judgment. The mediator assesses the interests of both parties and weighs what is important to both in order to render a suggestion. Parties who participate in this proceeding are trying to settle their affairs outside of court and avoid the costs of an expensive trial or arbitration.

Alternative dispute resolution can be a cost effective and amicable tool used in divorce proceedings. If you would like to discuss your options in exploring arbitration or mediation for your divorce proceedings, contact the offices of Michael A. Robbins at (248) 646 - 7980 to receive a consultation regarding your case.