Mediation vs arbitration

Some people may think going to court is the only way parties in a contested divorce can resolve conflict. Although some cases may need to go in front of the judge, there are other ways to come to a resolution without going to court. 

In the traditional divorce process, spouses and their attorneys push and pull to determine the outcome of an agreement, and making a final decision may take months. Mediation and arbitration are two additional ways to come to an arrangement. 

  1. Mediation

Mediation uses a neutral third-party to help spouses resolve divorce issues. Spouses hire a mediator as a go-between. This person does not make the ultimate decision but provides information and ideas on how to settle the problems. 

Often, mediation is much less expensive than a court trial and may end in an agreement beneficial to both parties. Also, the mediation process is confidential as there is no public record of what happens during the sessions. 

In mediation, neither party has to agree to the results. Although spouses may decide mediation is the best route, issues may still arise that the parties cannot agree on, such as child support and visitation. If this happens, taking the case to court may be the only option. 

  1. Arbitration

Like mediation, arbitration uses a neutral third-party to listen to both sides and may prevent lengthy court battles, expensive legal fees and court costs. Unlike mediation, the arbitrator’s decision is final. The agreement is legally binding, just as if the judge had made the final ruling. As with mediation, arbitration sessions are also private. 

According to Colorado law, a court may appoint an arbitrator to resolve disputes about parenting time and child support adjustments. Either spouse may have the original agreement invalidated, modified or corrected following a de novo hearing. 

A de novo hearing is a new hearing, or a second chance, to present the case to a judge. While there is no guarantee of the final outcome, the judge may rule in favor of the person who filed the motion for the hearing if there is new evidence to consider.