Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Pros and Cons of Arbitrating a Divorce Case in Michigan

By: Carole L. Chiamp

Many couples use mediation (a method in which a third party facilitates to help the parties to reach a settlement) to resolve their divorce action.

When parties cannot agree, they may think the only way to contest unresolved issues is to go to trial. It is not. Arbitration can be used and may be the best possible solution. An arbitration can only be voluntarily entered into. It cannot be ordered by a court. It is binding. In very few cases is the arbitration overturned.

The advantages of arbitration are:

  1. It is less expensive than trial. Even though it may be more expensive than mediation, it is still less expensive than a trial.

  2. It is done in a much more informal manner. The rules of evidence are usually relaxed with regard to testimony, hearsay and exhibits.

  3. It is done more privately in a law office as opposed to a court room.

  4. You can pick your own arbitrator, such as a retired judge or a skilled attorney. If the attorneys do not have a lot of knowledge of the judge because he/she is new to the bench, or because they don’t think the judge is very knowledgeable, arbitration may be the best way, especially where there are complex issues.

  5. In a courtroom, the judge is interrupted due to other responsibilities so you will pay an attorney for down time while you try your case. In arbitration you get the full attention of the arbitrator.

The disadvantages are:

  1. You waive your right to trial.

  2. It is much more difficult to appeal.

  3. If there is a history of domestic violence arbitration may be a bad idea for many reasons.

  4. Arbitration is based on an agreement which must encompass all that is to be arbitrated. There may be no record in which case it is more difficult to determine if mistakes are made. Though a court reporter may be obtained, parties wanting to save money don’t always have one.

Arbitration is an area to be explored with your attorney. We are prepared to assist you to determine whether arbitration is a better alternative than trial in your case. Contact us.

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