Resolving your case privately and amicably outside of the courtroom is always best when possible. It is less expensive, more convenient, and you control the outcome. There are also ways to settle your case that will keep your asset distribution private, which is not possible at trial. At trial, your assets will be disclosed in final orders which are accessible to the public. This can be avoided through mediation and arbitration.
What is mediation?
Mediation in family law can work for most cases. Mediation is a process where the parties to a case generally attend a one-day meeting with their attorneys and hire a third, experienced, neutral attorney to give their input and help them reach an agreement. This is usually done in a “shuttle diplomacy” format, where each party is in a separate room with their attorney, and the mediator goes back and forth with offers and their opinions. At the end of a mediation day, the parties leave with a binding contract called a Civil Rule 2A Agreement, or final orders.
What is arbitration?
Sometimes, when agreement cannot be reached after mediation, arbitration is the next step. Often the mediator or a different person, generally a retired judicial officer or attorney, will act as the binding decision maker and will take evidence and testimony like a judge would in a trial. The difference is control of the process, but not the outcome. Arbitration usually occurs in the office of the arbitrator and has a preset schedule. In trials, the schedule fluctuates and can be postponed due to the strain on the judicial system. With arbitration, you are paying someone to act as judge, and you can be certain of when the process will occur.