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Is Arbitration the Right Choice For You?
There are many unpleasant things about getting a divorce. For most people it is a very stressful time physically, emotionally and psychologically. You have to make many decisions that, back when you were first married, you felt you would never have to make. One of those choices is how you are going to handle your divorce. Will you choose arbitration, mediation, trial, or some other method of settling the legal aspects of your divorce?
In order for you to decide if arbitration is the right choice for you, you first must understand what arbitration is and how it differs from trial or mediation. Most divorces, if they are civil, start with a mediation of some type. The newly separated spouses along with their solicitors sit down and try to work out the division of property and custody arrangements. However, sometimes the negotiations break down or the two parties come to an impasse. There are two ways to resolve this impasse, arbitration and trial.
During arbitration, the arbitrator helps the two parties resolve whatever conflict is holding up the divorce proceedings, whether that is a custody arrangement or who is getting the car or whatever the issue may be. The hearing is conducted very much like a trial, but there are some major differences that are very important and could have long-term consequences. For example, unlike a trial where either party can appeal a decision that he or she disagrees with, the decision of the arbitrator is usually final and legally binding. That means there is very little recourse if some aspect does not go your way. Most people see this as being the chief reason to choose trial over arbitration if they come to an impasse in their divorce proceedings. Another point of difference is that before arbitration begins, everyone must agree on what rules the arbitrator will follow and which ones he or she will ignore. For example, some rules pertaining to evidence are often disregarded. Arbitrators can be more pliant than judges and are allowed to use not just evidence in front of them but also their instincts and skills as a negotiator to come up with a fair settlement.
Arbitration is especially good in several situations and can provide a great alternative to trial in some instances. Arbitration may be a good choice for you if you and your former spouse have worked out all but one or two things. If you have lots of things settled and go into court, the judge may decide to change all the agreements that you have already come to, resulting in unnecessary interference in your life. Another benefit of arbitration is that it is generally much less expensive than going to trial. The arbitratorís fee is not as high as the court fee and because your solicitor needs less time to prepare for arbitration, you end up paying your solicitor less too. Arbitration is also generally a lot faster than a trial, so issues that need to be settled quickly, like property, ownership of a joint business, or school tuition, can be settled in a timely manner. If you choose to take your divorce to trial, you may be waiting for a decision for a very long time.
Arbitration may not be right for everyone. There are a couple of things about it that might make couples not want to use it, like the inability to appeal the arbiters decision. There are some pros, like it is less expensive and it is faster most of the time. Overall, for many couples, divorce arbitration can prove to be the least painful way to bring about a quick divorce settlement.