Why Should I Arbitrate My Divorce?

Arbitration is one of the various methods of alternative dispute resolution, also referred to as ADR for short. The idea behind alternative dispute resolution is exactly what the name entails. Rather than solving disputes through a lengthy trial process, the dispute at hand is streamlined through a process that will save time and money and hopefully help the parties resolve their issues. It is like a mini trial. Arbitration clauses are often found in contracts and agreements. Here are 6 reasons some parties choose to handle their family law matters through arbitration.

1. You choose the decision maker.

The parties and their attorneys present their case to a hired impartial third party, known as an arbitrator, who is agreed upon in advance. An arbitrator is the decision maker and essentially serves like a judge. He or she will render specific awards, after the parties present evidence. The court will then render an order reflecting the arbitrator’s award, unless there are clauses in the award that goes against the best interest of the child or children. Oftentimes, parties will hire retired judges to serve as arbitrators. In family law, retired family law judges are often hired due to their decision-making experience and expertise in family law.

2. You get to decide the rules.

Arbitration is a voluntary process. The parties and their respective attorneys can set the rules regarding how the arbitration process will be conducted. Rather than following the rules of civil procedure that is mandated by the state for parties in litigation, the parties are in control of every aspect of the arbitration process. The parties can agree on the “trial” date before the arbitration, the length of discovery, discovery limitations, and any other agreement necessary to help facilitate an agreement. Discovery is the proper name for procuring evidence to present your case. Essentially, the parties have free control to tailor the procedure to better suit their case.

3. You get to establish appeal rights.

One of the facets of the arbitration process the parties can agree upon are appeal rights. An appeals process is when one party makes a formal request to change the official decision rendered. Appeals not only add to the cost of a case, but it also lengthens the process. Limiting appeal rights will allow the parties to save money and time (which is life’s most valuable asset) so the parties can move on with their respective lives.

4. It allows for privacy.

Arbitration is a private process. Anyone who is not a party to the case cannot attend any hearings or attend any proceedings in the arbitration process, unless there is consent between the parties and the arbitrator. Many public figures choose to arbitrate their divorce because it allows them to keep their personal lives private.

5. It can be binding or non-binding.

The parties can stipulate, or come to an agreement, on whether the arbitrator’s ruling will be binding or non-binding on the parties. If arbitration is binding, the arbitrator’s decision is final. If arbitration is nonbinding, a party can request the court to render the final judgment. If the latter is chosen, the case will continue with the traditional legal route where the parties will present the case before a judge or a jury, depending on jurisdiction.

There are advantages to choosing a binding arbitration and a non-binding arbitration. A binding arbitration can ensure the parties will not have to spend money on a full-blown trial, thus controlling, to an extent, the amount of legal fees to be expended on the case. Further, the parties have a more definite final date for their matter since the parties can stipulate the arbitration clause specific to appeals.

A nonbinding arbitration can help facilitate negotiation. An arbitrator’s decision can give the parties an insight into how a judge or a jury may carry weight to the evidence presented by the parties. With an arbitration rendition, the parties are more likely to reach a negotiated settlement because they are in a better position to weigh their options.

6. Save on time and money.

The purpose of arbitration and the other alternative dispute resolution methods is to help parties save time and money. Most family courts have such full dockets they cannot easily schedule trials. Oftentimes, parties will have to wait over a year for the court to hear their case. Also, because the parties decide how arbitration is going to be handled, as discussed above, the parties can make decisions ensuring legal costs are kept at a minimum.

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