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Divorce Mediation vs. Arbitration

fighting2It’s an understatement to say that divorce is a time of confusion and uncertainty. Both parties face the dissolution of a partnership that once was intended to be for life. Now they face a future where they have to start over, rediscover their independence and re-establish a single and separate life. This can lead to anger and bitterness, but for many couples, litigation or a court divorce is the worst option. Mediation or arbitration can be far better approaches that can help to salvage respect and sometimes friendship from the loss of the romance. It’s important, however, to understand the difference between divorce mediation and arbitration.

Divorce Arbitration

In an arbitrated divorce, the couples have usually hit a wall in their negotiations and need a third-party to step in, but still don’t want the pain and frustration of a trial. This is where an arbitrator comes in. The arbitrator is a neutral third-party that is agreed upon by the couple and their attorneys. This arbitrator is often a judge who will hear both sides of the argument and make a ruling. This ruling or award is final and not subject to appeal.

Arbitration Benefits

The benefits of an arbitrated settlement are manifold. First, the divorced couples choose the arbitrator and the issues to be resolved, as opposed to a court trial where the judge is assigned and everything is often on the table. This arbitrator can have specific areas of expertise or experience in the area of the impasse: tax law, real estate, business, or youth and family services.

Second, arbitration is private and confidential. It’s not a matter of public record, it is less formal, costs less and reduces emotional stress. Third, the couple gets to decide on the time and location of the hearing, saving the strain of enforced scheduling. Finally, arbitration can be used as a part of a mediated divorce, where a single issue is at an impasse and needs to be resolved before moving on.

Mediation

A mediated divorce is the ideal solution for many couples. In this type of divorce, the couples sit down with a neutral third-party as in arbitration, but work together to determine how to split their assets. This process allows parties to get past anger, bitterness and vengeful ideas and work out a split that is fair and equal to all involved. The mediator in this case is there to ensure everyone remains clear-headed and respectful. He or she does not make decisions for the split, but encourages and guides the couple to make the right decision for themselves.

Mediation Benefits

A mediated divorce saves time, stress and emotional turmoil by avoiding an adversarial climate. It allows for open communication, salvages respect and partnership between the couples and focuses on resolution of issues in a clear-headed and problem solving manner.

Divorce mediation and arbitration can often be used together to resolve difficult problems. These forms of non-adversarial divorce approach can salvage relationships, protect children and even, sometimes, save a marriage. If you would like to explore these options, we can help. Give us a call for a consultation today!