Arbitration is a form of alternative dispute resolution for couples to resolve their disputes outside of a courtroom. It is a lot like a trial but is done in a less formal setting. Arbitration will involve a request for certain information on the parts of both parties, preparation of arguments and witnesses, and presentation of evidence to an arbitrator. The arbitrator, based on what has been presented, will make a decision as to the issues in dispute.

Arbitration has to be done by agreement, so the parties can convey to the arbitrator the ability to decide any issues related to their family law case. Financial issues, such as division of property, allocation of debt, spousal support awards, and child support awards can be decided by an arbitrator. Parties will have submitted custody determinations to arbitrators as well. However, there is some disagreement about whether an arbitration decision relating to custody and visitation is binding, but these issues have been submitted to arbitrators in many cases and the arbitrators make those decisions. When going through arbitration, it will be important to retain the help of a Virginia arbitration attorney because of the various complexities that can come up in these types of family resolutions.

Choosing an Arbitrator

Typically, the attorneys for the parties will discuss and agree upon an arbitrator. Often, the attorneys will send back and forth a list of two or three arbitrators who they believe are qualified and would be good fit for the particular case. Occasionally, if the parties or the attorneys cannot agree, there are other ways of choosing, such as pulling a name out of a hat, but usually, the Virginia arbitration attorneys can decide between them on a suitable arbitrator to arbitrate their case.

Benefits in Court

One of the benefits of having arbitration is selecting the arbitrator. If the person goes to court, it is not their decision who the judge is, and that can take out some risk factors associated with outcomes in cases. Attorneys selecting the arbitrators will often know a little about the arbitrators being considered, which can be useful for purposes of gauging the range of possible case outcomes. Additionally, because arbitration does not occur in a courtroom with people sitting on witness stands, arbitration can be a much less uncomfortable environment in which to get a resolution to a person’s family law case.

Working with a Lawyer

The only situation in which a couple can be forced into arbitration is if prior to the arising of the dispute, they agreed that they would. For example, if a party enters into a pre-marital agreement that includes a provision requiring that personal property, household furnishings, shall be divided by way of arbitration. If the parties have signed an agreement requiring such arbitration, they can be required to participate. Otherwise, in family law matters, arbitration will only occur if the parties agree mutually to participate in that process.

Because arbitration is a rather complicated legal process, involving certain deadlines relating to providing information and submitting certain briefs, if necessary, a trained and experienced arbitration lawyer in Virginia will provide much assistance in handling those deadlines and preparing for the arbitration than a person navigating that system on their own.