Divorce arbitration is typically less expensive and more efficient than the conventional divorce process, much like mediation or collaborative divorce. A less formal and private divorce process is arbitration. In contrast to collaborative divorce or mediation, parties are not left to decide every detail on their own. The matter will be decided by a privately appointed arbitrator instead.
Procedure for Arbitration
Divorce arbitration is not subject to the same legal restrictions as a divorce trial, although it does follow the overall format of one. Not all states allow divorce arbitration, and in those that do, the family court must provide permission before the divorce can start.
Parties will select an arbitrator once they have decided to arbitrate a dispute. Typically, retired judges or attorneys serve as arbitrators, and many of them have experience with certain family law issues, including company division in divorce. Private arbitrators typically bill by the hour, with a wide range of prices. Your attorney will probably take the lead, but you can look through your state’s arbitration groups or family court to find an arbitrator.
In general, it is not a good idea to go into an arbitration without legal representation, particularly if your spouse will have legal representation. Consider summary divorce or mediation if neither you nor your spouse wants to engage with an attorney.
The parties will sign an arbitration agreement after selecting an arbiter but before the arbitration starts. The arbitration agreement will probably specify the procedures to be followed, the matters to be decided, the deadline for the arbitrator’s decision, and whether or not it will be binding.
The arbitration agreement is signed, and the case moves forward similarly to a regular trial. In front of the arbitrator, both sides will make opening and closing remarks, present evidence, and call and cross-examine witnesses. Within the time frame specified in the arbitration agreement, the arbitrator will provide a ruling following the presentation of evidence by both sides.
Arbitration’s Advantages and Dangers
Some divorcing couples find arbitration particularly appealing due of its efficiency. The participants to an arbitration are not constrained by the hectic schedule of the court because it takes place outside of it. Instead, it can just take a few weeks for the arbitration process to start. There is a chance for cost savings because of this efficiency. The shortened approach results in fewer billable hours overall, although parties still pay for their attorneys, the arbitrator, and any experts.
Since arbitrators are not subject to the same regulations as family courts, arbitration rules—particularly those pertaining to evidence—may be more lenient. In conclusion, arbitration takes place in secret, but court records are public.
The fact that arbitration rulings are typically enforceable is arguably arbitration’s biggest drawback. This implies that the parties will not only have to accept the arbitrator’s ruling, but they also won’t be allowed to file an appeal or take the matter to court thereafter. However, every situation is unique, and the advantages of arbitration might exceed the disadvantages.
For divorcing spouses who wish to follow the procedures of a divorce trial but do not want to deal with the formalities or inefficiencies of a family court, arbitration might be their best bet. Arbitrations for divorce are a relatively new alternative. Before initiating a divorce arbitration, parties should educate themselves on the particular laws of their state and the local arbitrators.
Frequently Asked Questions About Divorce Arbitration
1. What is divorce arbitration?
Divorce arbitration is a process where a neutral third party, known as an arbitrator, helps couples resolve their divorce-related issues outside of court.
2. How does it differ from mediation?
While both involve a neutral third party, arbitration typically results in a binding decision, whereas mediation focuses on facilitating communication and reaching a mutual agreement without a binding outcome.
3. Who chooses the arbitrator?
Usually, both parties jointly select the arbitrator, ensuring a fair and unbiased choice.
4. Is arbitration legally binding?
Yes, the arbitrator’s decision is legally binding, similar to a court judgment. It can be enforced through the legal system.
5. What issues can be resolved through arbitration?
Arbitration can address various divorce-related matters, including property division, spousal support, child custody, and visitation rights.
6. How long does arbitration take?
The duration varies, but arbitration often takes less time than traditional court proceedings, providing a quicker resolution.
7. Can I have a lawyer during arbitration?
Yes, each party has the right to have legal representation during the arbitration process.
8. How confidential is the arbitration process?
Arbitration is generally more private than court proceedings, as it occurs in a confidential setting.
9. Can decisions be appealed?
Typically, arbitration decisions have limited grounds for appeal, as the process is designed to offer a final resolution.
10. What are the potential cost savings of arbitration?
While costs vary, arbitration can be more cost-effective than prolonged court battles, considering the expedited process and reduced legal fees.