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Why arbitration is not the same as mediation

| Jul 6, 2020 | Divorce

It is easy to confuse arbitration with mediation. People who research divorce arbitration online through search engines generally come up with a lot of results for mediation. While both arbitration and mediation allow couples to handle divorce outside of a courtroom, the two are not identical.

Depending on the needs of a couple, one of these forms of divorce resolution may be preferable over the other. Harvard University describes how arbitration is different from mediation, which may help couples to decide which is right for them.

The basics of mediation

Couples who go through mediation deal with a neutral third party called a mediator. A mediator helps a couple resolve their issues in a mutual fashion.

A mediator has no power to impose a solution. Instead, mediators facilitate talks between the spouses. Mediators may work with the spouses together or with each spouse separately. Mediators can help spouses understand their positions better but cannot provide legal advice.

The basics of arbitration

While a mediator cannot impose a resolution on a couple, an arbitrator may hand down a binding solution. Arbitration functions more like a court proceeding, except that it is more informal. Spouses in arbitration can negotiate what can take place in the arbitration, like the kinds of evidence each spouse can present and whether the spouses can have attorneys present.

Some spouses may want more flexibility in the decision making process and opt for mediation. In general, an arbitration decision is final and the spouses cannot appeal it.

Conversely, some couples prefer arbitration since it provides a way to resolve issues if they cannot come to a mutual agreement while at the same time affording as much flexibility and privacy as possible in the final outcome.