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What is Arbitration?


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Staying out of court during the separation process is ideal for a lot of couples. Hiring a mediator is often a great way to have someone help you resolve your differences. Unfortunately, in some cases, this is not enough and a third-party needs to be called in to make a decision; This is where arbitration comes in. Arbitration can be used to resolve a single issue or several outstanding issues. Here are a few commonly asked questions about arbitration and how it works in the divorce process.

What is Arbitration?

Arbitration is a process that is very similar to court. It is helpful in resolving issues on which the couple has reached an impasse and can’t resolve by agreement. At this point the parties select an arbitrator to decide on the outstanding legal issues. Arbitrators are often senior lawyers or retired judges.

How does it work?

The process is relatively formal and similar to court, with parties making opening statements, calling witnesses, presenting evidence and giving closing statements. The kind of evidence required will vary with each case but may involve affidavit (written) evidence or oral testimony. After hearing the evidence and submissions the arbitrator writes a decision, called an Arbitration Award, which can be converted into an enforceable court order.

What are the benefits of arbitration?

Unlike court, the arbitration process is completely confidential, and the result is not made public. The interested parties are also able to select the arbitrator. This is beneficial because they can choose an arbitrator that has knowledge in the topic of the case like complicated land claims, for example. The couple chooses their own hearing dates, so it works with both their schedules and the process is usually much quicker as it does not get bogged down by the backlogged court system.

What is the cost of arbitration?

In an arbitration, the parties share the cost of the arbitrator, in addition to legal fees for their lawyers.  This adds to the cost of an already expensive process, however, it may still be less expensive in the long run, if arbitration is done at an early stage, than a trial in court.

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