If the parties to a divorce cannot settle their differences through negotiation or mediation, and confidentiality is a concern, they will usually find themselves in court to present the evidence and arguments necessary to resolve the dispute via arbitration.
In its essence, arbitration is the private adjudication of disputed matters of fact and law that would otherwise be resolved in court. Cases are usually referred to arbitration either by contract (as in a prenuptial agreement) or by agreement of the parties after the petition for divorce is filed and served. The arbitrator is empowered to hear evidence, find facts, and, frequently, render binding decisions.
Arbitration is not for everybody. The procedure makes best sense for divorcing parties with important confidentiality interests to protect complex property division issues, or highly contentious child custody problems.
Although arbitration resembles the civil trial process in several respects, it is not often used in divorce and family law. For many people, however, the following features of arbitration can make the procedure especially attractive:
- Arbitration proceedings occur in private and not in open court.
- Arbitration can be scheduled at the convenience of the parties rather than under the constraints of a crowded court docket.
- Depending on the issues, an arbitrator might have a better appreciation for the issues in your case than a district court judge.
In Texas, either party can request that a jury decide the custody of children, the character of property, or the value of a business. For many people, however, a hearing before a family court or district court judge will not be the best way to resolve a dispute, and arbitration might be a good alternative.
Every case is unique, and the attorneys at Orsinger, Nelson, Downing & Anderson can help you determine whether this procedure will be the right choice for your situation.