Arbitration vs. Mediation in Family Law

couple sitting with mediator
Dec 11, 2023 | Content

Divorcing couples and others having family law disputes often have trouble resolving areas of disagreement themselves. They may be too caught up in the emotions surrounding the problem to cooperate with each other and find workable solutions.

Mediation and arbitration are out-of-court processes that are forms of alternative dispute resolution (ADR). These processes offer solutions that work for many families.

Even if you have decided that ADR is right for you, there are drawbacks and benefits to arbitration versus mediation. Learn about the differences, then talk to a local family attorney about whether either method might be an appropriate option for your circumstances.

Mediation Is More Collaborative

Mediation is a process where the parties discuss their differences with each other and try to find common ground. A neutral third party, the mediator, facilitates the discussions but does not steer the couple toward a specific solution.

Mediation allows the parties to find their own resolution. They learn to listen to each other and respond to each other’s needs. The skills the parties develop in mediation can be very valuable in the long term and are especially helpful for couples who will be co-parenting.

Mediation can be very effective when both parties want a solution and are willing to make some compromises. If one party is determined to win or make the other lose, mediation is less effective. Additionally, mediation is usually not appropriate for parties with a history of family violence and many mediators will not take a case if domestic violence is or has been an issue.

Arbitration Is More Like Court

Parties with a problematic power dynamic, history of domestic violence, or an inability to communicate might not benefit from mediation. However, arbitration could be faster and less expensive than waiting for a trial and is still completely private and confidential.

When parties choose arbitration, they agree to present their cases in an informal proceeding to a third party who is often a retired judge. They also agree to accept whatever decision the arbitrator makes. In contrast to some other jurisdictions, arbitrators in Georgia can decide on any family law matter.

The Arbitration Process

The attorneys for parties choosing arbitration must select the arbitrator as well as the issues the arbitrator will decide. These negotiations can be time-consuming. The actual arbitration is similar to a trial, with each side having an opportunity to present their case, introduce evidence, and even call witnesses.

After hearing the attorneys’ presentations and considering all the evidence, the arbitrator issues a written decision. While this decision is binding on all the parties, the judge could review an arbitrator’s decision on matters relating to children to ensure it supports the children’s best interests.

Discuss Your Options for Arbitration Vs. Mediation With a Local Family Attorney

Most family law issues can be resolved out of court. When determining whether to select arbitration versus mediation, the parties’ personal dynamics will usually favor one method over the other.

Talk to a local family attorney from the Atlanta Divorce Law Group about your ADR options. Call today to discuss the solution that might be right for you.


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