A collaborative divorce is often a great option to reduce your legal costs and any lingering feelings of resentment after a divorce. While the goal of a collaborative divorce is to settle every issue, sometimes that isn’t possible.
If you can’t come to a full agreement, you don’t need to go to a family law judge. Arbitration or mediation can help you find an equitable resolution to your disagreements.
What is Mediation?
Mediation is a type of negotiation that brings in a neutral facilitator to help you overcome disagreements. The mediator’s role is only as a guide. They make no decisions, and you are free to accept or reject any proposed resolutions.
The key advantage to mediation over a typical negotiation is that sometimes the mediator is able to identify unspoken interests and come up with creative solutions. For example, maybe one spouse is fighting hard for a boat, not because they want it, but because they resent how much money was spent repairing it. The mediator might suggest valuing the boat a little higher than its market value for the purpose of property division.
What is Arbitration?
According to Dictionary.com, an arbitrator is a formally appointed person who is empowered to make decisions regarding various issues. In legal matters, arbitration utilizes an unbiased third party arbitrator instead of a judge to make binding legal decisions. Compared to a formal divorce hearing, legal rules are relaxed somewhat. Once each side has presented its case, the arbitrator will make a decision based on the evidence.
You might want to choose arbitration when you have a few sticking points in your negotiations. Perhaps your spouse has made a proposal you don’t think is completely unreasonable but you also don’t think is equitable. Instead of letting the issue derail negotiations, you and your spouse can agree to disagree and let the arbitrator decide.
The advantage over mediation is that arbitration allows for someone else to decide what’s equitable instead of continuing to go back and forth with your spouse. Because arbitration is informal, it’s typically less costly and less adversarial than scheduling court hearings or a trial.
How to Make Your Decision
Collaborative law is about keeping you in the driver’s seat and finding outcomes that benefit both you and your spouse. Think about what best achieves that goal when you’re making your decision.
If you’re having trouble getting negotiations started or avoiding conflict during negotiations, try mediation. If you’ve come up with a couple of reasonable alternatives and are having trouble reaching a final agreement, arbitration might be better.
In order to protect your interests, contact the Vaught Law Firm. Our attorneys are highly experienced with the nuances of collaborative law in Austin, and can provide you with mediation or arbitration services as you choose.