Going to divorce court is expensive and stressful, with no guarantee you will obtain a mutually satisfying court order. Mediation and arbitration are cost-effective alternatives for couples who want to avoid the higher costs and emotional trauma of a court date. Learn the difference between arbitration vs. mediation, how mediation works, and more.
Litigation vs. Arbitration vs. Mediation: What You Need to Know
If you're in the midst of a separation, you're probably wondering whether litigation is your best option or if you should choose mediation or arbitration for divorce. Before you decide, here's what you need to know about arbitration vs. mediation, and how they differ from the litigation process.
What Arbitration Means
Arbitration uses an arbitrator, a trained professional who makes decisions based on the evidence presented by both sides of an argument. Arbitration is usually faster than litigation because it does not involve a lengthy court process.
What Is Divorce Mediation?
Divorce mediation involves a neutral third party that helps two people resolve their divorce issues. Mediation can take place before, during, or after a divorce has been filed. It's also possible to use mediation to resolve any other problems that may have arisen between you and your spouse during your marriage.
How Does Arbitration Differ from Mediation?
The main difference between mediation and arbitration is that mediation allows parties to reach their settlement agreement through discussion and compromise. The mediator acts as an impartial facilitator who helps both sides develop solutions that work for them individually and jointly as a family unit.
In arbitration, decisions are made for you based on the evidence provided. Arbitration results in either a binding or non-binding award, which is decided by the arbitrator. The process works in a similar format to a trial, but without the stress of a courtroom. Other legal documents, such as custody evaluations, can also be considered and presented during this process.
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How Mediation Works in Divorce
During mediation, both spouses meet with an independent mediator who tries to help them come to a fair settlement for both parties. This can occur with or without attorneys involved.
Each spouse gets a turn to talk about what they want in the divorce, including issues like child custody and property division. The mediator may also suggest different solutions based on their experience.
Once both spouses agree on the terms of their divorce, they sign a written agreement called a Separation Agreement or a Consent Order. This document can include all of their property rights and responsibilities, with the exception of the actual divorce.
Is Mediation Legally Binding?
Mediation is a settlement-focused process where an impartial third party helps you and the other party reach an agreement on specific issues like division of assets or custody agreements. The mediator does not decide who wins or loses but helps you reach a binding agreement. The final document could be a binding Separation Agreement or a Consent Order signed by a judge.
The benefits of mediation include the following:
● Lower cost than litigation
● No court appearances required
● Confidential handling
● Quicker process than litigation
● Less adversarial
Is Arbitration Binding?
In most cases, an arbitration agreement is non-binding unless specified. This means the arbitrator’s decision can be appealed, resulting in a trial before a judge. The process can be much quicker than a lawsuit. However, arbitration awards are not published; so, you can keep the matter private if you wish.
Have Questions About Arbitration vs. Mediation? Call Spidell Family Law
Mediation and arbitration are both viable options for a legal resolution if you're going through a divorce. Arbitration and mediation cost less. And both options allow people to devise their own compromise without drawn-out court cases.
If you're ready to begin the process, Spidell Family Law can help! Whether you have questions about arbitration vs. mediation or you're looking for a certified mediator, our compassionate team is here to guide you through the process.