Mediation, arbitration and litigation: Which one is right for you?

On Behalf of | Sep 23, 2020 | Family Law

When you think about your divorce, do you envision how it’s going to play out? Do you imagine a calm process where you and your spouse split your assets with some assistance to keep you on track? Do you envision a courtroom where you’re fighting tooth and nail?

Either of these, or one of many other, scenarios can happen. Fortunately, there are a variety of ways that you can address conflict and work through your divorce matters. The three types that you might want to consider include:

  • Mediation
  • Arbitration
  • Litigation

Mediation is the first type of alternative dispute resolution. It’s good, because it gives you and your spouse a safe space to talk to one another. The mediator isn’t a judge. They’re not there to tell you what to do. Essentially, they work like a referee, keeping you on track and making sure you both follow the rules of engagement during the session(s). The mediator may have legal knowledge and be able to guide you toward a resolution by providing you with the information you need to make a decision.

Arbitration is the next form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR). It’s different, because it is much more like a divorce trial. It’s more formal than mediation. It requires you to present your case as an argument to the arbitrator. The arbitrator will listen to both sides, look at evidence and hear witnesses, in some cases. The difference in arbitration is that the arbitrator will come to a resolution for you. They will determine how to resolve the dispute, and their answer is typically legally binding.

Finally, there is litigation. This is more costly and time-consuming than arbitration or mediation in most cases. Litigation means you’ll be going to court to argue your position and to present your case to the judge. Your attorney will be there to represent you and fight for the results that you want. There is no negotiation with litigation, and the judge’s decision is usually final.

Each of these options could be right for different couples, depending on their current relationship. If conflicts and disputes prevent communication, litigation may be the answer. If a couple is willing to work together, then mediation or arbitration may be the right choice.