Arbitration is another alternative dispute resolution option– one that falls somewhere between mediation and full-fledged litigation on the spectrum of structure and rules. Essentially, an arbitration is a private trial in which the parties hire their own “judge” – the arbitrator – to finally decide the issues between them. In an arbitration, the parties will have the full attention of the arbitrator, whereas in a traditional courtroom setting, the judge may have to deal with many cases at once in a courtroom full of people. In contrast to mediators, arbitrators are professionally trained to hear testimony, review evidence, and issue binding decisions.
Often, parties will decide to attempt arbitration after they have been unsuccessful in mediating certain of their issues. Sometimes, the parties will simply have one or two issues that they can’t communicate and resolve effectively, and arbitration can be very helpful in those instances. It is in fact possible to mediate some issues, and arbitrate others, if that piecemeal approach works best for the parties.
When a couple makes the decision to arbitrate their issues, the first step is signing an “arbitration agreement”. Through this agreement, the parties agree to give the arbitrator the authority to make decisions in their case. The agreement also sets forth the issues to be decided in the case, and establishes whether the arbitration decision will be binding upon the parties. Typically, when a couple decides to arbitrate, each spouse retains an attorney to help with the process, as well as to the parties of their rights and to help them pursue their goals during the course of the arbitration. The hearing itself is somewhat typical to a court hearing, with an opening and closing statement by each party, as well as the presentation of evidence and the opportunity for cross-examination of witnesses.
Although arbitration can seem like a somewhat formal process and is not used as often as some other methods when it comes to custody disputes , it is typically a good choice for those parties who feel that mediation may be slightly too unstructured, but who don’t want all of the expense and stressful time commitment that comes with traditional litigation. While it may be more expensive than mediation because it includes more formalities, and while it may give the parties slightly less freedom in the decision-making process, it is still typically less expensive and less stressful than traditional litigation.
If you want to learn more about arbitration, contact Adkins Law to speak with an experienced divorce attorney in Huntersville NC.