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Divorce Arbitration

Divorce Arbitration


A Quick Guide to Divorce Arbitration



What is Divorce Arbitration?



You should not confuse arbitration with mediation.  Arbitration is held outside of the court, and an arbitrator is responsible for listening to the wishes of each spouse.  Many people seek arbitration because the process is much cheaper than a trial, and there is usually much less conflict involved as well.  Although the divorce arbitration is held outside of the courtroom, lawyers may still represent their clients if the spouse wants representation.  An arbitrator will make a final decision of the terms of the divorce just like a judge would as well.  



Why do spouses consider Divorce Arbitration?



As mentioned above, the arbitration process is much cheaper than a trial, and the process usually runs much more smoothly.  Many people also consider divorce arbitration because this option keeps the decision out of the public eye.  Trial proceedings become open to the public, but arbitration keeps the divorce private, and many people would rather keep the procedure private for a child’s sake or even to avoid uncomfortable confrontation around the community and workplace. 



How does divorce arbitration process officially work?



The arbitration is much less formal than a mediation or trial.  After an arbitrator has heard statements from both spouses and possibly their lawyers, the facts and findings are recorded and a written order is given to the court judge by the arbitrator.  After the findings are submitted, each spouse only has a certain amount of time to amend the agreement



What are the advantages of Divorce Arbitration?



Two spouses can usually pick an arbitrator that has expertise in a certain area of law, such as taxes, business, non-marital tracing issues, and any other number of qualifications.  The arbitration process moves much faster than a traditional trial as well.  An arbitrator will work with two spouses for an unlimited amount of time, and they will offer recommendations on how to settle the divorce.  If two spouses cannot agree on a certain issues, an arbitrator will give them a list of options that will help avoid the case being brought to court. 



Are there Disadvantages Associated with Arbitration?



The main reason people avoid arbitration is because there are a number of disadvantages compared to a traditional trial.  The main disadvantage to arbitration is the fact that once a settlement has been reached, the results are usually final.  Normally, there are no appeals associated with arbitration.  The only type of settlement that can sometimes be appealed within a court involves child custody and child support.  If the interests of the child are neglected, the child support and custody can enter what is called a “trial de novo.”  



There are more disadvantages as well.  Arbitrators are not legally required to strictly follow state law, but they are not allowed to directly defy the law.  They may make a mistake, and if that mistake is not noticed within the final settlement, a spouse may suffer an unfair loss of finances or property.



Additionally, arbitration usually moves quickly, but spouses still need to pay for the arbitrator’s time—usually by the hour.  If there are conflicts involved, the arbitration may extend in length, and arbitration fees are not always cheap.