The next step from mediation is often arbitration. This is an alternative option to a court judge; a neutral party, the arbitrator, is either selected by the divorcing couple or court-appointed. Arbitration may be preferred because of its more relaxed nature when compared with using a court. The rules for discovery and evidence are usually more flexible, and the timeline can be adjusted to fit the needs of the divorcing parties instead of rigidly adhering to the needs of the court. Overall, the process generally gives more control over the divorce proceedings to the parties.
Arbitration is also, often, a less expensive process than using the courts, and can allow for a more direct selection of an arbitrator with knowledge about or experience with a specific type of issue. An assigned court judge may not necessarily have expertise pertaining to the specific circumstances of the divorce. Additionally, it has much higher levels of privacy than court proceedings, which are usually public. This can be very valuable when intellectual property or trade secrets are part of the assets being divided.
A major consideration, however, is that an arbitrator’s decisions are often more binding than a judge’s. The grounds for overturning an arbitrator’s decision are much more limited. Final decisions made by an arbitrator cannot be overturned simply because they did not fully understand the case at hand or did not apply the law in the correct manner. This makes it all the more important to choose a skilled and trustworthy arbitrator. Additionally, a decision in binding arbitration is final. There is no opportunity to appeal if the outcome is unfavorable.
Whatever the case, Hampton & Pigott can help guide and represent you through the arbitration process, helping you to get the most favorable outcome in the most peaceful way possible. Contact us today if you are considering divorce or other family matters requiring arbitration.