Many family law matters end up in arbitration, which shares some of the same qualities of both mediation and litigation. It is often less formal than litigation, although the level of formality is decided by the parties before beginning the process. In most cases, both parties and their attorneys are in the same room during arbitration (unlike in mediation).
During the arbitration session, each side presents its case, governed by the rules that the parties have agreed to. The arbitrator then makes a decision on the issues presented. All matters in controversy may be presented in arbitration or some may be left for the court to decide.
The arbitrator’s ruling may be binding or not. If binding, the parties must accept the ruling and there is no appeal of the decision. If non-binding, the ruling is merely advisory and the parties may do with it as they please. The participants decide ahead of time whether to have a binding or non-binding arbitration.