In basic terms, arbitration in family law is a process where the parties select a “private Judge”. They have to pay the arbitrator to make decisions for them. Here is why arbitration makes sense in many family law matters.
Arbitration Can Be Faster
The Court system is traditionally a slow-paced process requiring many (often) cumbersome steps to get to a final decision. Arbitration tends to be faster than the traditional litigation process. The speed depends on the cooperation of the parties, the experience level of the arbitrator, and the nature of the problems.
TIP: Choose an arbitrator with experience and who can handle the issues presented in an efficient and effective manner.
Arbitration Costs Less
Although the Court system is generally free to use the Judge, the procedural aspects tend to bog down and cost the parties a considerable amount of money. However, arbitration has less procedure and thus is often less expensive.
There can still be significant expenses to arbitration. The parties need to consider the strictness of the rules of evidence, modifying timelines, procedures, and the amount of authority given to the arbitrator. Further, the arbitrator needs to be paid upfront. The cost to the parties to pay lawyers and the decision-maker may be daunting.
TIP: Be realistic regarding the cost of arbitration. In some cases, it may not necessarily be less expensive than the traditional litigation process.
You Can Choose The Arbitrator
One of the most significant benefits of arbitration is the ability to choose the decision-maker. The parties need to pick an arbitrator with expertise in the area of dispute.
Further, having an arbitrator who understands family law reduces the time involved in educating that person, giving the parties more control over the process and also ensuring a business-like approach to dispute resolution. Arbitration gives the parties the most flexibility.
TIP: Do your homework on the choice of an appropriate arbitrator. This might be the most important decision in the entire process, so look for someone with experience, knowledge in the area in dispute, and the ability to control a process in an effective manner.
Arbitration Is Confidential
Arbitration allows the dispute to be kept in private, rather than in a public forum used in the Court system. Keeping the dispute behind closed doors is often beneficial for the parties.
The privacy of the procedure and the subject matter is important where there is an ongoing relationship between the parties or it is important to keep the decision confidential.
TIP: Consider whether you have any special interest in keeping the matter private. If so, arbitration may be a good choice.
Contact us to learn more about arbitration and why it might be the best solution for you.
-Written by Lonny Balbi, QC