Sep 12, 2023

Is Arbitration The New Mediation? A Faster, More Cost-Effective, And Binding Solution

Family law disputes and divorce cases are often emotionally draining and financially burdensome. Traditionally, mediation has been a popular alternative to court litigation, offering a more amicable resolution process. However, arbitration is emerging as a new and highly effective method that has numerous advantages over mediation. Let’s explore the benefits of arbitration, including its cost efficiency, time-saving nature, binding decision, and how it can be a refreshing and innovative solution for those seeking to escape prolonged litigation.

Cost Savings

In a traditional divorce process, costs surge as lawyer time increases due to disputes, often impacted by court efficiency. Frequently, the expense becomes misaligned with the clients' financial goals, leading to frustration over the lack of control and prolonged resolution timelines.

Unlike court litigation, where attorney fees can rapidly escalate, arbitration allows couples to work with a single arbitrator who will schedule the arbitration for consecutive days. Unlike traditional litigation, there are no fees for “wait time” as the arbitrator’s case is the only case to be heard on its scheduled day. The streamlined process minimizes expenses and enables the couple to control costs better, ultimately preserving their financial resources for post-divorce life and child support.

Time Benefits

For couples who want to expedite the resolution of their family disputes, arbitration is a game-changer. Court proceedings can often drag on for months or even years, subjecting families to prolonged uncertainty and stress. Arbitration offers a quicker and more flexible timetable, empowering couples to schedule sessions that fit their needs. Instead of a public courtroom, typically the parties present their case in a private setting. They select a skilled and experienced arbitrator to make decisions, either binding or advisory, as determined by their arbitration agreement. The parties have control over the arbitration scope, encompassing economic claims and possibly child support and custody, as allowed by jurisdictional laws. Many clients who elect the arbitration process complete their divorce in a fraction of the time it would have taken in court.

Binding Decisions:

Unlike mediation, where agreements are non-binding and subject to court approval, arbitration decisions are legally binding. This feature offers a sense of finality and certainty for the parties, knowing that their settlement will be enforceable in court, usually avoiding the risk of re-litigating issues in the future. While an arbitration award may be appealable under certain circumstances, those circumstances are limited.

Escape from Litigation:

Arbitration can be a haven for those exhausted by the adversarial nature of litigation, often referred to as “litigation fatigue.” The court process can escalate tensions, fuel animosity, and prolong emotional distress. In contrast, arbitration fosters a more cooperative atmosphere, encouraging open communication and problem-solving as well as less confrontational, allowing divorcing couples to focus on finding common ground and resolving their differences.

Arbitration is an alternative to mediation, and its benefits in family law and divorce cases are undeniable. As family dynamics evolve, considering arbitration as a viable option can alleviate stress and help families embrace a brighter future sooner. If you find yourself facing a family law or divorce dispute, consider the advantages of arbitration and make the choice that best suits your needs and the well-being of your loved ones.

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