Divorce Arbitration Explained

Getting divorced in the courtroom adds extra stress and expense to an already hectic time in your life. However, there are other options that may be better suited to your needs and desires. For example, arbitration is a common choice for many divorcing couples. So, what is divorce arbitration? Below, you’ll learn all about the process.

What Is Divorce Arbitration?

Divorce arbitration in Sugar Land TX is a voluntary process in family law. It lets divorcing spouses handle all issues that arise during the divorce privately. Instead of going to court, you and your former spouse will enter a room with an unbiased third party, known as an arbitrator.

You should still consult an attorney before you begin the arbitration process. Once you sign the agreement to settle your divorce by arbitration, there’s no backing out. That’s why it would be a good idea to have an attorney explain your rights and responsibilities regarding the process. Hiring an attorney will also help you build a case to help you reach your goals during your divorce.

How Is Arbitration Different from Mediation?

If you’re familiar with mediation, then the notion of divorcing spouses having discussions with an unbiased third party present may seem familiar. However, arbitration is far more comparable to litigation (settling your divorce in court) than mediation. A mediator cannot enforce any decisions made during the mediation process. In arbitration, the arbitrator makes all the decisions as a judge would.

Arbitration, like mediation, is far more flexible and efficient than going to court. However, like litigation, arbitration has a third party decide the outcome of specific issues such as child custody, the division of marital assets, spousal support or maintenance, and anything else that comes up during the divorce.

What Is the Process of Arbitration?

Arbitration technically is not a trial, although the process does highly resemble court proceedings. With arbitration, you can work with an attorney to prepare a case, make claims, formulate arguments, and present evidence to help support your side of the story in the divorce.

However, instead of going to court, you will now bring in your arbitrator and present your cases to them. The arbitrator you choose will most likely be a retired attorney or judge, and you’ll pay them for their services. Many people will leave presenting the cases up to their attorneys, as they have the most expertise and know how to communicate their points as effectively as possible.

How Is Arbitration Different from Litigation?

Arbitration is more private, much less formal, and often less stressful than getting divorced in a courtroom setting. Although the general process is the same, many divorcing couples feel more comfortable in the more subdued setting that arbitration provides.

What Are the Main Benefits of Arbitration?

1. It’s Private

The privacy aspect is one of the main draws of arbitration. It’s not quite as private as mediation; with mediation, the court documents will not be available to the public, but the court documents are available with arbitration. However, arbitration is still more private than having the proceedings take place in a courtroom.

2. It’s More Cost-Effective

Arbitration is by no means cheap, but it’s usually more cost-effective than going to court. You’ll still have to pay a divorce attorney, and you’ll have to pay your arbitrator on top of that. However, there are no court fees to pay. You’ll also usually end up paying your attorney less than you would during litigation, as proceedings move faster with arbitration.

Plus, the general regulations and rules involved in arbitration are slightly less strict than those involved in litigation. This means your attorney will often need to spend a little less time preparing the case, and therefore, it will cost less to hire them.

3. It’s Faster

The arbitration process doesn’t take as much time as litigation. The schedule is flexible, so there will be no lengthy delays like there would be if you were settling in court. You can simply reschedule your arbitration to another time that suits you.

4. It’s More Convenient

Sometimes it can take months before you’re given a date for your court hearing. The court won’t take your schedule into account before they set this date, so if you can’t attend, then there will be a major delay as you wait for your new court date. Arbitration is far more convenient. You can set the date, and if you need to postpone it, then you have the flexibility to do so. Plus, it won’t usually take you months to find an arbitration date that suits everybody involved.

Arbitration offers a more comfortable alternative to a traditional divorce trial. It’s not the best choice for everyone, so ensure you discuss it with a divorce attorney before entering into any agreements. However, if it’s right for you, then the privacy, reduced cost, and increased efficiency make arbitration worth considering.

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