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What’s the Difference Between Arbitration and Mediation?

The terms mediation and arbitration are often thought to be interchangeable. Despite the similarities, there are several key differences between arbitration and mediation you should keep in mind when deciding whether to proceed.

What’s the Difference?

Divorce mediation and arbitration are great options for couples who want to avoid expensive, time-consuming traditional litigation. Both mediation and arbitration involve an impartial third party to oversee the negotiation process so that trial in a divorce court can be avoided.

So, how exactly are they different? In mediation, the neutral party does not have the power to make decisions. They are there to guide couples and help them come to an acceptable divorce agreement. On the other hand, an arbitrator can act as a judge would. After listening to the facts, the arbitrator will decide the case. Parties can make arguments against the arbitrator’s decision, but if it is a binding arbitration, the arbitrator has the final say. Non-binding arbitration gives couples the opportunity to request a trial if they do not agree with the arbitrator’s decision.

In general, divorce arbitration is conducted with a panel of arbitrators. Unlike mediation, which usually uses a single mediator to help facilitate discussion and resolve disputes, arbitration will often have three arbitrators: one on each party’s side, then a third to contribute to the final decision. These decisions are made by majority vote.

Is One Better Than the Other?

Depending on your needs, arbitration or mediation can be a great way to get through your divorce smoothly. For couples who believe they can come to an agreement without much trouble, mediation is probably best for you. With divorce mediation, final decisions are completely up to you. With arbitration, the third party or parties will often have the sole power to come to a decision. Arbitration can be great for couples who feel comfortable letting someone else decide on the terms of their divorce agreement. After all, arbitrators are trained to come to the best, most fair decision possible.

Ultimately, arbitration and mediation are great ways to take some of the headache out of divorce. Now that you know the difference between the two, Jones Divorce Mediation will help you with whichever method you decide on. Call us today for a free confidential consultation.


Disclaimer: The content provided in the blog posts of Jones Divorce & Family Law is general information and should not be considered legal advice. Please contact a lawyer for legal advice tailored to your specific situation. All articles are current as of their original publication date.