Arbitration is a form of alternative dispute resolution, although it isn’t used as often as meditation in divorce and family law cases. When both parties agree, they can tailor the arbitration process to their specific needs. This flexibility can be a huge benefit in Marietta divorces and other Georgia family law cases.
Through arbitration, individuals can avoid time-consuming, expensive, and burdensome court procedures. Not only may a divorcing couple arbitrate financial issues, but they can also resolve child custody issues (subject to court approval and oversight). A dispute can only go to arbitration if both parties agree to do so.
If you go to court, you are assigned a judge. You have no input into who is chosen. Unfortunately, your judge may have certain biases. For example, they may have a reputation for awarding custody only to mothers or for refusing 50/50 parenting schedules. Other judges may be biased against dividing businesses or awarding alimony.
In arbitration, the spouses select their own arbitrator (or even multiple arbitrators) who appeals to both of them. By controlling the selection process, the spouses hope to avoid the biases that may be present with an assigned judge.
Arbitration can be useful in complex and high-income cases because spouses can select an arbitrator who is well-versed in complicated financial issues. Arbitration allows spouses going through a high-asset divorce to keep their documents, testimony, and other proceedings private. For some spouses, the benefit of privacy is worthwhile.
Arbitrations usually take place at a lawyer’s or law firm’s private office. Unlike many court proceedings, arbitration sessions are not open to the public. Through arbitration, sensitive financial or medical records can stay out of the court system and the public record. Additionally, the individuals may agree to seal the record, which some judges do not allow.
Once the parties have selected an arbitrator and given a consent order to the court, the process is similar to the court system – except faster, less expensive, and less formal.
The arbitration itself usually runs like a trial. However, in the spirit of alternative dispute resolution, the spouses may agree to conduct it differently.
Unlike mediation, the arbitrator’s decision is final. It carries the same weight as a judge’s order. The power of the arbitrator over the final outcome makes arbitration riskier than mediation. Therefore, spouses should still be cautious in their decision to arbitrate.
Divorce doesn’t always have to be a long, expensive, public event. Contact the Marietta divorce attorneys at Bivek Brubaker & Prescott at 866-527-2630 to schedule a 30-minute consultation to discuss your situation.