Divorcing spouses can benefit from two popular alternatives to traditional litigation in addition to formal or informal attorney-led negotiation; divorce arbitration and mediation.
Both methods aim to facilitate the resolution of disputes between divorcing parties while avoiding the adversarial nature of courtroom battles. It’s important to be aware of distinct differences between the two approaches before committing to either one.
What is the primary difference?
Divorce mediation is a collaborative process that involves a neutral third-party mediator facilitating discussions between divorcing couples and their attorneys. The mediator can foster effective communication, enabling couples to reach mutually agreeable solutions.
In divorce mediation, the mediator serves as a facilitator rather than a decision-maker. They help the couple:
- Identify their concerns
- Explore various options
- Find common ground
A mediator aims to promote open dialogue, encourage compromise and help ensure both parties’ voices are heard.
Conversely, divorce arbitration, another alternative to court, is a dispute resolution method in which divorcing couples present their case to an arbitrator who acts as a private judge. The arbitrator listens to both sides, reviews the evidence and renders a binding decision. The arbitrator is an impartial third party responsible for evaluating the evidence presented by both parties and making a final decision on any unresolved issues.
Choosing the right approach
Deciding whether to pursue divorce mediation or arbitration is a process that should be directed by the unique circumstances and preferences of the divorcing parties. Divorce mediation may be preferred if the couple is willing to cooperate and collaborate. This is because mediation encourages open dialogue and empowers the couple to reach mutually satisfactory agreements.
However, in cases where a divorce involves complex legal or financial matters that are disputed, such as significant assets or child custody disputes, divorce arbitration may be more suitable. The expertise of an arbitrator can help navigate intricate issues and render a well-informed decision.
While divorce mediation emphasizes collaboration, divorce arbitration offers a binding decision from an impartial arbitrator based on the evidence presented. Seeking legal guidance can help parties to settle on an approach that fits their unique needs.