Although they are both forms of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), there are several main differences between divorce mediation and arbitration that you should know about before choosing which method is right for you.
Arbitration is more like a court proceeding in that evidence is presented, the lawyers argue, and the litigants testify. There are two kinds of arbitration: binding and nonbinding. In binding arbitration, the final outcome is determined by what the arbitrator rules. Nonbinding arbitration is a little bit more like mediation, but still involves filing documents and the presentation of arguments from each side.
While arbitration can be compared to an informal court proceeding, mediation is even less formal and is further removed from the litigation process. Divorce mediation enables the parties to reach a place of settlement where they can actualize their goals for their divorce arrangements and help define their family’s future. The mediator is a neutral third party who facilitates and guides the process. Although the law informs everything that occurs in mediation, a mediator is not focused on adhering to strict rules and therefore is able to make more flexible arrangements than would be possible in court – as long as both parties agree to it.
Arbitration and mediation offer different advantages and are both viable alternatives to court litigation. You should carefully weigh the benefits of each when deciding which method to use in resolving your divorce.