Interested in divorce arbitration? For many people, the idea of litigating their divorce is a nightmare. From child custody and support to alimony, retirement benefits, and property division, going through the process of dissolving your marriage contentiously is difficult at best. Fortunately, there are options available for residents of Connecticut and New York who would rather get a divorce without the big fight in front of a judge.
Here’s what to know about divorce arbitration, its benefits, and how seasoned family attorney Heidi E. Opinsky can help you determine if it’s right for your family.
What Is Divorce Arbitration?
Divorce arbitration is one of the most popular divorce lawyer alternatives and is similar to a traditional divorce trial, except that instead of attempting to resolve their disputes in a public court of law, cases are handled in private before a special type of judge called an arbitrator. Unlike mediation, an arbitrator can make decisions for you and your spouse on your behalf if you cannot reach an agreement together.
Before proceeding with divorce arbitration, you and your spouse will both sign an agreement that says neither of you will pursue divorce litigation while the arbitration is ongoing. You may not later litigate your divorce once an arbitrator has made a final decision, however, if no decision has been made, you do have the option to halt the arbitration process and take up litigation.
Arbitration vs. Mediation
Although many people mistakenly assume that mediation and arbitration are the same things and the opposite of litigation, this is actually untrue. Mediation does not allow a judge to make any decisions for you and your spouse. Instead, the only time a judge becomes involved in the process is when the divorcing couple reaches an agreement that is ready to be finalized and become legally binding.
Another key difference is that during mediation, you work with a neutral, third-party mediator who helps you and your spouse make compromises and reach agreements on the multiple facets of your divorce. Arbitration, on the other hand, does not require the presence of a mediator.
Benefits of Divorce Arbitration
There are a number of benefits to arbitration, such as:
- Avoid costly, time-consuming, and emotionally draining litigation. While litigating your divorce may be the best option in some cases, you may be able to avoid it and still preserve your best interests with divorce arbitration.
- Increase privacy. Divorce arbitration proceedings aren’t public like litigation is, which can be highly beneficial for couples, particularly those who have a high net worth or a public reputation to uphold. Arbitration takes place in a judge’s chambers and the final New York or Connecticut divorce settlement agreement is not made public, both of which afford a much greater degree of privacy than litigation.
- Speed up the process of dissolving your marriage. The longest part of the divorce process is waiting on a hearing to get scheduled with the court. Since you do not need to appear in public court for an arbitration hearing, this typically gets scheduled much faster than a traditional divorce hearing.
- Make divorce easier on your children. Getting a divorce is not only hard on you and your spouse, it’s also difficult for your children if you have them. Even if you and your spouse agree on most things, your kids may still be a point of contention. Arbitrating your divorce is one way to shorten the time, effort, and emotional investment needed for the process.
Considerations to Make First
There are a few things to keep in mind before you go all-in on divorce arbitration, including but not limited to the following:
- Do you have a lot to gain from a contentious divorce? If you are divorcing a spouse with significant assets and you have much to gain from traditional litigation, a high asset divorce attorney might recommend this approach instead.
- Are you a victim of domestic violence or has your child been abused by your spouse? Cases involving domestic violence or accusations of DV are typically more complex than divorce mediation or arbitration can resolve. This means you may need to go through the process of litigating your divorce in public court in front of a judge.
Need Assistance With Divorce Arbitration in Connecticut & New York? Heidi Opinsky Can Help
Heidi Opinsky is a veteran Connecticut and New York divorce lawyer with extensive experience in divorce arbitration. It may be difficult for you to determine if mediation, arbitration, or litigation is the right choice for you, but Attorney Opinsky can help. Call now to learn more about the benefits versus the caveats of arbitrating your divorce or to book your initial consultation by calling 203-653-3542.