What Is Arbitration in a Divorce?

Understanding Divorce Arbitration

Divorce arbitration is a method for resolving marital disputes outside of the traditional court system. It offers an alternative to litigation for couples seeking a more streamlined and potentially less contentious resolution.

In arbitration, divorcing spouses present their cases to a neutral third party, known as an arbitrator, who acts as a private judge. However, the presentation of evidence (and process overall) is less formal than in litigation.

The arbitrator considers the arguments and evidence presented by both sides before issuing a binding decision on matters such as property division, spousal support, and child custody.

Arbitration aims to:

  • resolve divorce issues faster,
  • be more cost-effectively, and
  • be more private than litigation.

This process allows divorcing couples to maintain a degree of control over the process and the outcome while leveraging the expertise of the arbitrator to reach a fair settlement. This can be particularly beneficial for couples who wish to minimize emotional strain and prioritize a respectful conclusion to their marriage.

Even though divorce arbitration takes place outside of the courtroom, legal representation can be invaluable throughout the process. Your lawyer can:

  • advise you on the legal implications of arbitration,
  • explain the potential benefits and drawbacks in your specific case, and
  • guide you through the preparation of necessary documents and evidence.

They can also represent you during the arbitration hearings, ensuring your arguments are presented effectively and advocating for your best interests throughout the negotiations with your spouse.

Is Arbitration the Same as Mediation?

While both arbitration and mediation are alternatives to traditional litigation in divorce, they function in distinct ways. Key differences in these processes include:

  • Decision-making authority. The arbitrator, like a judge in court, has the power to issue a binding decision on all aspects of the divorce settlement. Conversely, the mediator acts as a facilitator, guiding communication and negotiation but ultimately leaving the decision-making up to the divorcing couple.
  • The focus of the process. Arbitration is more akin to a courtroom setting, with each party presenting arguments and evidence for the arbitrator's consideration. With mediation, the emphasis is on open communication and collaborative problem-solving to reach a mutually agreeable outcome.
  • Confidentiality. Both processes are generally confidential, but arbitration awards may be subject to limited disclosure under certain circumstances.

When Consider Arbitration?

Besides saving you time and money, divorce arbitration can be beneficial for couples in various situations. Consider the following when deciding whether to pursue arbitration:

  • Agreement on core issues. If you and your spouse are already in agreement on most aspects of the divorce, such as the decision to split and a general idea of property division, arbitration can efficiently finalize the remaining details.
  • Desire for privacy and control. As we mentioned, arbitration offers a private setting compared to public court proceedings. Additionally, both parties have some influence over the selection of the arbitrator and the scheduling of hearings.
  • Limited assets and debts. For divorces involving relatively straightforward finances and no complex child custody issues, the streamlined nature of arbitration can be cost-effective.

Considering Divorce Arbitration? Contact Us!

Arnel Law Firm is committed to protecting our clients’ rights and interests. Our lawyers can act as your trusted advisor and advocate, even within the framework of arbitration.

Get in touch with our attorneys online or via phone at (718) 550-3024.