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Arbitration In Divorce and Family Law Matters

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Arbitration is one of several alternative dispute resolution processes that can be used to resolve a divorce or other family law matter in Georgia.  It is often used when parties have reached an impasse in their divorce or family law matter and wish to resolve the issues without going to court.  Arbitration is similar to a final trial, but instead of the parties resolving their dispute in a public courtroom, their case is heard in a private setting before an Arbitrator.  This setting is called an arbitration hearing and is scheduled at a time and place convenient to all parties, unlike a court trial, which is scheduled based on the court’s availability.

In Arbitration, the parties and their attorneys choose and agree upon an Arbitrator.  The Arbitrator is then presented with the specific issues preventing resolution, much like the parties would do for a judge in a courtroom.  After a hearing, which includes the presentation of witness testimony under oath and other documentary evidence, the Arbitrator renders a decision, called an award, on the specific disputed issues. The Arbitrator’s Award is then filed with the court in which the divorce or other family law matter is pending.  Absent limited and extenuating circumstances, in most cases, the Arbitrator’s Award, cannot be appealed.

What are the advantages of Arbitration in my divorce or family law matter?

  • The parties and their counsel have the flexibility to select the Arbitrator who will decide their issues instead of the judge assigned to their case by the court.
  • The parties have the option to select an Arbitrator who has specific experience in an area of interest, for example, custody, business valuations, complex tax issues, real estate value, etc.
  • The parties pick the day, time, and location of their hearing based on their schedules instead of the court’s schedule.
  • The parties are afforded greater privacy, confidentiality, and a less formal setting in Arbitration, while avoiding the time, expense, and emotional distress associated with a trial in a public courtroom.
  • Arbitration often brings closure and finality more quickly than traditional litigation. The grounds to appeal arbitration are much more limited than litigation, so arbitration usually ends the process without further litigation.

What are the disadvantages of Arbitration in my divorce or family law matter? 

  • The finality of arbitration can also be a disadvantage, because if you end up with an outcome you do not like, you cannot appeal absent limited and extenuating circumstances.
  • You can only arbitrate if both parties agree to it.
  • In some circumstances, Arbitration can be more expensive than an easily-negotiated settlement or mediation, but it is still generally less expensive than a trial.

Is Arbitration the right choice for my divorce or family law matter?

The decision whether to finalize your divorce or family law matter through arbitration or a final hearing in Court is a difficult and complex decision based on the unique facts and circumstances of your case. The attorneys at Buckhead Family Law understand the advantages and disadvantages of both and understand how high the stakes are in your family matter, and will work hard to try and give you the best outcome possible. Call our office today to speak to an attorney.

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