Mediation/Arbitration is a way to resolve a dispute that involves parties working with an independent third party. This individual first takes the role of mediator and attempts to work with the parties to resolve their dispute on their own. If the parties cannot reach an agreement, or a settlement, the mediator becomes an arbitrator, and makes the decision for them, much like a judge would. By agreeing to mediation/arbitration, the parties are contracting out of their right to take the matter to court, and have chosen to have a private arbitrator decide their matter, instead of a judge.
There are several ways to resolve conflicts in a divorce or separation. You may reach an agreement with your former partner without needing the assistance of lawyers. Your lawyer, and your former partner’s lawyer may reach a settlement through a negotiation process, as instructed by you. You may take your matter to court, and have a Judge decide it for you. Mediation/Arbitration is another alternative. It is appropriate for anyone in conflict, regardless of the issues in dispute and the level of conflict. It can be a little more complicated when a situation is characterized as “high conflict”. While couples who are experiencing a high degree of conflict can resolve their issues at mediation/arbitration, particular safeguards need to be in place for parties with a history of domestic violence so the mediator/arbitrator should be advised of that history in advance.
Mediation/Arbitration usually takes place in a boardroom, at the mediator/arbitrator’s office. Both parties to the dispute and the mediator/arbitrator attend each session. The parties are free to attend with legal counsel if they wish. In certain situations, it may be appropriate for the parties (and their legal counsel) to sit in separate rooms,while the mediator/arbitrator goes back and forth.
Parties can attend mediation/arbitration as soon as a dispute arises and they agree upon this method of conflict resolution. That said, the mediation/arbitration process instead of court is appropriate at any stage of a dispute, even where the parties are already involved in a court action. Attending mediation/arbitration to resolve your disagreement as soon as possible avoids a lengthy and expensive legal battle.
Mediation/Arbitration combines the advantages of both mediation and arbitration. Mediation gives parties the ability to work towards a creative, customized solution where they remain in control of the result. However, in the event they are unable to achieve a mutually agreeable resolution on any issue(s), they agree to be bound by a decision imposed upon them by the arbitrator. It is likely the most cost effective option available for the resolution of a dispute since the arbitration acts as insurance for a timely resolution, without the risk of the cost, conflict and turmoil associated with prolonged litigation.
The advantages of Mediation/Arbitration include:
While it is up to the separating parties to choose the method by which they wish to resolve their dispute, in our opinion, mediation/arbitration is quick and efficient, and may be preferable to attending at court when a resolution cannot be quickly and easily achieved.
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