Mediation and Arbitration as Divorce Litigation Alternatives

Ending a marriage is a difficult choice for most couples, but the decision to end a marriage is just the tip of the iceberg. Most divorces end up mired in arguments and fights over assets and assignments of blame and retribution for perceived wrongdoing. Property division, custody agreements, maintenance negotiations, and hidden assets can lead to heated conversations that aren’t exactly conducive to resolving your issues and reaching a settlement. Sometimes, the only way to move forward in divorce proceedings is by working with mediators and conflict resolution professionals. When couples are entrenched on opposing sides with sparring litigators, it can be challenging to find many paths forward towards an agreement.

Divorce alternatives give couples the opportunity to explore customizable solutions that are faster, cheaper, and more private than traditional litigation. Not every divorce case is a good fit for divorce mediation, so it’s always best to consult with your attorney before making a chance if you’ve started filing documents in your divorce. Mediation and arbitration can work for couples if they’re open to the process. If mediation seems too informal, arbitration may be the better option for couples seeking alternatives to traditional divorce litigation.

Mediation versus Arbitration

In mediation, a single mediator will supervise the proceedings and guide the parties toward a resolution. The mediator will not give legal advice, so it’s up to each party if they want to appear with counsel. Mediation can be beneficial in divorces where the couples are already communicating and looking toward the future of their relationship rather than their past. Being able to work together and compromise are essential parts of mediation, so it may not work for couples who have not been able to foster a positive relationship with their spouse. Another benefit of mediation is that it’s completely confidential, which is important for many divorcing couples. After an agreement has been realized, the mediator prepares a Memorandum of Understanding, which can be used to finalize a legal settlement.

In arbitration, spouses can customize the setting of the process. It can be as formal or as informal as the divorcing parties wish, and like in mediation, it will be confidential. While it is true that arbitration can be informal, it is still more like litigation than mediation. In divorce arbitration, the parties will prepare for proceedings much as they would for litigation. Documents, witnesses, and arguments are presented to the arbitrator, and a decision is rendered. In addition to confidentiality, arbitration is also fast. Arbitration can usually be completed in a week, while formal divorce proceedings can take up to a year to two to make their way through the court system. Some detractors of arbitration take issue with the fact that the outcomes are final. It’s a concern that couples should discuss with their counsel before choosing divorce arbitration.

How to Know Which is Best

Choosing the right road to get to your final destination during a divorce can be overwhelming. It’s crucial when making your decision that you’re considering all of the factors most important to your particular situation. Each option has benefits, but when it comes to choosing which is best, it comes down to selecting the option that will work best for your situation. You should consider your current relationship with your divorcing partner and determine if these alternatives will work in your case.

Palmer Rodak & Associates can help develop a strategy for your divorce case. Call us today at (760) 573-2223 to schedule a consultation.