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Even the simplest divorce on the surface can become contentious quickly. You want to resolve your differences with your spouse but just can’t come to mutual agreements or find yourself stuck on one or two issues. However, you still want to avoid the courtroom if possible as the possibility of a drawn-out battle in court comes with such a large emotional and financial price tag. This is when you should consider some real alternatives to court that you can discuss with one of our top rated family lawyers, namely arbitration and mediation.

Arbitration: A Binding Option

In general terms, in arbitration, two parties work with a neutral third party to resolve matters and come to an agreement. The third party, known as the arbitrator, may be selected by the court or the parties. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the arbitrator must remain neutral and cannot give either party actual legal advice. Because of this, it’s still recommended the parties have their own child support lawyer to offer them legal guidance.

During arbitration, both parties work with the arbitrator to settle all the open matters in the case, such as child custody, child support, the visitation schedule, property and debt division, spousal support and more. Much like a judge, once the arbitrator rules on an issue, it is binding for both parties.

In a Divorce case, there are a variety of benefits to arbitration. The process more private than court proceedings, which is appealing in cases involving high assets or other information both parties may want to keep private. Both parties choose the arbitrator by selecting someone with specific experience in particular areas. They also decide which issues the arbitrator will to address for the case.

Mediation: A Settlement in Sessions

As with arbitration, in mediation, a neutral third party works with a both parties to help reach an agreement in their case. This third party who remains neutral throughout the case is known as the mediator.It is important to note that mediators are unable to give legal advice, for this reason, hiring an attorney for legal guidance is still recommended. Unlike an Arbitrator, Mediators are unable to make legally binding decisions. If both parties cannot come to an agreement during mediation sessions, they will need to start from the beginning in court.

Like arbitration, mediation offers a variety of benefits. Mediation is less expensive, time-consuming and emotionally taxing than going to court. A good mediator will focus on the concerns and best interests of everyone involved, including any children of the marriage. He or she will also attempt to foster open communication and respect between both parties to help protect the relationship between moving forward. Mediation sessions are private and like arbitration, any matters the parties do not want to be made public will remain private.

Mediation or Arbitration?

There is no hard or fast rule to determine whether mediation or arbitration is right for a divorce case and if so, which one is the best approach. In general, if both parties believe an agreement is possible without going to court mediation and arbitration may be a viable alternative. Some people find that mediation is more suited to cases with many issues that need to be worked out, whereas arbitration is better for cases in which many decisions have already been made but there are several remaining issues to address. Upon choosing the mediator or arbitrator, it is important that both parties are comfortable with him or her, as that will help increase your chances of a successful resolution that everyone is comfortable with.

Whether you are stuck on child support or have multiple issues to work through, both arbitration and mediation can be viable options for your divorce case. Our skilled and experienced team at Burnham Law is fully prepared to act as your guide during your mediation or arbitration process to ensure your interests are protected. Contact us for help today.