What’s the difference between Arbitration and Mediation? There’s often confusion about which one of these two legal methods works best for divorce. Here’s some information to help you make the best decision for your divorce.
In both arbitration and mediation, a neutral third party is used with the goal to negotiate a settlement without a lengthy court proceeding. Simply put, in arbitration the arbitrator (or arbitrators) hears your evidence and makes a decision for you. In mediation, the parties in the divorce first meet together informally with a mediator to share their reasons for divorce. The mediator does not make a decision for you, but helps to facilitate a peaceful and fair discussion to lead to a resolution acceptable to both parties.
Three Top Reasons to Choose Mediation Over Arbitration
1. Save Money and Time – Though arbitration can save time because it helps to avoid the wait for a trial date, it can take much longer than mediation because it is much like a mini-trial. Both parties still have to convince the arbitrator, or sometimes arbitrators, to rule in their favor. Consideration of evidence and legal arguments often takes place with attorneys and adds even more time. Mediation takes much less time because the focus is on resolving the conflict peacefully to result in a win-win for both parties. Meetings with a mediator are scheduled at convenient times for everyone with little to no wait time. Resolution progresses at a quick pace because everyone has the same goal, a fair decision and a good outcome for everyone.
Arbitration saves money because there is no going to court, but it requires hiring attorneys who bill by the hour in addition to arbitrators who are also paid. This can greatly increase the cost. Mediation saves money because it involves only the mediator and the couple, proceeds much faster, and the mediator’s fee is a fraction of the cost of an arbitration proceeding.
2. Focus on the Future – In mediation the focus is on the future. Both parties are encouraged to get beyond their differences and settle their divorce peacefully and quickly. There is no right or wrong side and the divorcees have more control over their future. Arbitration is left up to a third party to make the decision. Rights and obligations are determined by existing law which the arbitrator is forced to follow. The outcome may not be what both parties expect and it can be a contentious and lengthy procedure.
3. Ease of Decision – Mediation avoids lengthy court battles and focuses on a positive outcome with agreement by both parties. The goal is a positive post-divorce decision that benefits the whole family and leaves an intact relationship. Though arbitration may cut court time, it is still a proceeding much like a trial. It can result in attacks upon one another to just to prove a side. Results may cause lasting animosity between the couple.
Mediation – the Popular Choice
Currently, mediation is more often the choice for divorce litigation and other lawsuits because of its high success rate. Like yourself, most people want to avoid a costly court trial and to keep a positive relationship with their ex. Mediation offers a safe, confidential environment with a caring mediator to lead the way to a positive end. The state of Florida has gone so far as to require all lawsuits to be mediated before going to court. The state has determined that mediation saves time and effort, reduces court dockets and trials, and is much more cost-effect than litigation.