Avoiding divorce litigation can be a good decision for everyone in your family. It will benefit you and your spouse by helping keep your costs down. It can help your children by reducing the amount of friction between their parents and eliminating the need for them to possibly testify in court.

Unfortunately, even if you want to avoid litigating your divorce, you and your ex may not see eye-to-eye about what is fair, appropriate and reasonable for your situation. Just because you haven’t reached an agreement about how to split your property yet doesn’t mean that your only option is to battle it out in the courts.

You can still potentially work things out if you get the right help. Both mediation and arbitration are useful tools for those considering divorce and hoping to avoid intense litigation.

Mediation and arbitration are divorce alternatives

Mediation and arbitration are alternative dispute resolution systems. Although they work slightly differently, mediation and arbitration involve two or more parties with their own individual legal representation working with a third-party who is neutral to resolve outstanding conflicts.

Mediation is all about facilitating mutual compromise

In a mediation session, you, your ex and your individual lawyers all work together with a trained family law mediator. Sometimes, everybody works together in one room. Other times, when tensions are high, the mediator may travel back and forth between the parties involved in the negotiations.

The role of the mediator is to understand the perspective of each party and try to suggest compromises and new ways of looking at the situation that will help the people involved arrive at solutions. Mediators often don’t provide specific terms but rather serve the purpose of helping people meet halfway in discussions.

Arbitration involves a reasonable resolution from an outside party

Arbitration is more like court because the neutral third party in this scenario posits a specific solution after hearing both sides’ version of events, much like a judge would.

An arbitrator might suggest basic guidelines for how to divide your property, establish appropriate levels of support and manage custody disputes. The spouses can accept those terms or possibly use them as a starting point for additional negotiations.

Arbitration and mediation can be valuable tools for couples who want to divorce but want to avoid the stress and embarrassment of handling all of their marital issues in the public forum that is family court.