Unhappy couples who own multiple properties, high-end artwork, luxury jewelry or other valuable assets may think that litigation is the best and only option for ending their marriage. Thankfully, for spouses that are still able to communicate and negotiate, there are alternative methods.
Mediation and arbitration are common alternative dispute resolutions that may be quicker, less costly and less stressful than traditional court proceedings in some cases. These methods can also be especially beneficial when there are children involved.
Mediation vs. arbitration
According to the Harvard Law School Program on Negotiation, both mediation and arbitration involve a neutral third party. In mediation, the mediator is not a decision-maker; rather, they work with both sides, encouraging discussions and offering creative solutions when spouses are unable to come to an agreement themselves. Everything discussed in mediation sessions, as well as in the final agreement, is confidential, which is beneficial for those dealing with complex or private matters.
In arbitration, the arbitrator acts as a judge, making a final decision after hearing the evidence from both sides. This process is less formal than a court battle and less collaborative than mediation. The final decision of the judge is binding, while a mediation agreement is not, and what occurs during arbitration may or may not be confidential.
Extra considerations for parents
When a divorce involves children, alternate dispute resolutions, especially mediation, may be good ways to keep the drama and stress away from the kids. Deciding on parenting time can take an emotional toll on everybody. The Child Welfare Information Gateway provides parents useful guidelines to follow so they can make the best decision in the interests of their children’s health and well-being.
When working with a neutral third party, parents should consider the age of their children, their current living situation, their children’s relationships with each parent, and the schedules of their children and each parent, as well as the physical and mental health of all parties.