It is increasingly common for divorce cases to be settled before a final hearing. Settlement allows parties to maintain control over the divorce case. The spouses can craft solutions for their future that fit in with how they want to move forward. In attempting to settle, there are several different options to have the process facilitated by a third person. Mediation is a well-known method, wherein a neutral third party tries to help the parties find some middle ground and reach an agreement on at least some of the issues. A less well known method is called arbitration.
Arbitration is a process wherein the parties meet with a neutral third party, just like mediation. Unlike mediation, however, this neutral third party will decide how the case will turn out. Like court, both parties will appear before the arbitrator and present their arguments and their case. The arbitrator will then make a decision based on the information presented. The parties have to agree on whether the case will be submitted to arbitration and which issues the arbitrator has the authority to decide. Importantly, except in rare situations, arbitration will be binding, just like a court’s decision.
The arbitration process has some definite advantages. First, it allows the parties to have the case concluded quicker than it would have been if the parties were forced to wait for a trial date. Second, although a third party is still making the ultimate decisions, the parties maintain control over which decisions will be made. Finally, the parties are able to choose their arbitrator. This means that they can carefully select an arbitrator who has experience in family law. There is no such guarantee that a sitting judge will be as familiar with this area of the law.
There are some downsides to arbitration. The most notable is that, unlike mediation, the parties lose a degree of control. With mediation, either party may at any time simply walk away from the process and request a final hearing. With arbitration, however, the parties have already committed to allowing the arbitrator to make the final decision. In addition, there are often limited opportunities to appeal the decision.
When it comes to settling a divorce case, there are many issues you should be aware of. Contact us today at 732-529-6937 to to talk about your case and your options for settlement.