When either mediation or collaboration falls short or is not an option, there is still an alternative to the traditional legal system. Entering into an agreement to arbitrate allows the Arbitrator to make an Award which is similar to a Judgment which is what a Judge would do in the court system. The Award is then submitted to and adopted by the court.
So what makes Arbitration more attractive than the traditional court system? Arbitration is a faster, more economical alternative to litigation, even in the largest, most complex family law cases. When you choose arbitration, you know you will have a final resolution in a reasonable amount of time, 90-120 days in most cases. The greatest benefit is not being subject to the court’s calendar which can often take a case 12-18 months to resolve. Not being subject to the court’s calendar in turn saves you money by not having to pay attorneys fees for that period of time which can end up being tens of thousands of dollars. The procedure and rules of evidence are much more relaxed than in the court system, which also makes it a more comfortable option for people who want to represent themselves. Additionally, arbitration is often utilized after an impasse in mediation and can be utilized when the parties have narrowed the unresolved issues through the mediation or collaborative process.
You may or may not choose to have legal representation during the arbitration process. While the Arbitrator may help guide you through the issues and process, the Arbitrator is not there to give you legal advice or an opinion. Unlike mediation, where there is a free flow and exchange of communication, the Arbitrator expects you to present your case.