Fighting it out? Try arbitration instead

Arbitration can be a wonderful tool in divorces as a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR). With ADR techniques, it's possible to avoid going to trial over concerns during your divorce, instead turning to other professionals to help you.

Arbitration has benefits and downsides, just like anything in life. The benefits may make it worth the trouble, though, if you are involved in a somewhat contentious divorce.

What are the benefits of arbitration?

The benefits that arbitration has over litigation include:

  • Speeding up the process
  • Having a less-formal case in front of an arbitrator
  • Being able to have a say in which arbitrator is used
  • Having the arbitrator decide on difficult decisions for you and making the resolution binding
  • Private hearings, which are not available to the public

Overall, the benefits are highly positive. They give you an opportunity to resolve the problems you're having without having to wait for a trial or extend the length of your divorce longer than necessary.

What are some downsides of arbitration?

There are a few downsides to arbitration including:

  • The lack of a formal evidence process, which means that the arbitrator will need to go through the evidence
  • No formal appeals process, and the arbitration process is usually binding
  • A lack of publicity, which can sometimes put one person at a disadvantage in the case

How do you decide if arbitration is right for your divorce case?

It can be hard to decide if you want to use arbitration, but there are some things to keep in mind when making your decision. First, consider the time it will save you. If most of your divorce-related issues are resolved, the arbitration process can resolve any remaining problems and help you end the divorce more quickly than going to trial.

Another consideration is the lack of publicity. If you are involved in a high-asset case, you may not want information about your assets or income available to the public. In that case, going through arbitration has a huge benefit, since your session is totally private.

Arbitration can work if you and your spouse are willing to try it. It comes with a binding agreement at the end of the meeting in most cases, so that you know what will happen. Allowing the arbitrator to make the decision does not give you an appeal, though, so be cautious if you think you won't like the decision they make.

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