In Dallas County and the greater Dallas / Fort Worth area more generally, couples are turning to arbitration to resolve their divorces instead of engaging with traditional litigation. Many of these couples refer to arbitration’s decreased cost and faster timelines in addition to the privacy benefits as their main reasons for using the alternative dispute resolution method. If you would like to discover the reasons behind this alternative dispute resolution method’s growing popularity, please read below for our brief overview of the basics, its process, and how arbitration can benefit those contemplating divorce.
Similar to negotiation or mediation, arbitration is a form of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). Just like the other forms of ADR, the Texas Rules of Civil Proceduregovern how arbitration is applied in the context of divorce.
Arbitration shares similarities with both mediation and traditional litigation. Many find it helpful to think of this ADR method as sitting at the half-way point between mediation and formal litigation. Like mediation, a neutral, third-party (the “arbitrator”) presides over the arbitration process. But like traditional litigation, the arbitrator’s role shares a few similarities with the judge’s role in a traditional courtroom setting. For example, similar to a judge, the arbitrator is empowered to issue a final, binding decision. Additionally, arbitrators hear arguments and the evidence presented by both sides of the matter. Finally, like courtroom judges, arbitrators always have impressive qualifications and professional experience, which helps ensure that the parties are served by an individual with a deep understanding of Texas family law.
Just as with all other forms of alternative dispute resolution, arbitration is strictly voluntary, meaning both parties must agree to its use before any proceedings may commence. The consensual nature of arbitration even extends to the choice of arbitrator. This means that in order for the arbitration process can begin, both parties must have already agreed to the identity of the arbitrator. In selecting their arbitrators, the parties are entitled to ample time in which they can review all of the arbitrator candidates. The lawyers at Kirker Davis LLP have ample experience with Dallas’s best arbitrators. This experience allows our lawyers to craft your position in the way that will best persuade the selected arbitrator’s dispute resolution style. Another benefit of arbitration is that couples need not wait until a dispute has arisen before opting for its use. Many forward-thinking Dallas couples are turning to premarital and postnuptial agreements that select arbitration as the dispute resolution method in the event that a dispute arises. By preemptively selecting arbitration before a dispute exists, such couples can more easily reduce the duration and severity of disputes. Additionally, couples need not select arbitration as the dispute resolution method in all cases. Instead, couples may choose to use arbitration for specific types of disputes, such as pet custody.
As we briefly mentioned above, arbitrators operate in a similar to that of a judge in the courtroom. First, the arbitrator will hear the arguments of each party and consider any evidence presented to support their positions, respectively. After weighing all the factors, the arbitrator will then render a final decision. For couples who select arbitration in Dallas, the arbitrator will be a respected member of the North Texas legal community, such as a retired judge or prominent lawyer well versed in Texas family law. This way, all parties can be sure that the arbitrator will render a fair, equitable decision.
While many couples have enjoyed the benefits of arbitration, this ADR method may not be the best option in all circumstances. The brief list below highlights some factors that may make a couple better suited for arbitration.
Note: While countless Dallas couples have enjoyed the benefits of arbitration, this ADR method may not achieve the goals of all couples. Whether arbitration will produce the best results for your situation will depend on a number of factors. A frank discussion with a qualified lawyer can help identify all the pros and cons of arbitration in regard to your matter. Some of the most common arbitration benefits include:
Do you think your matter could benefit from arbitration? Please feel free to contact our offices at (512) 746-7399 to discuss your options with one of our experienced Dallas lawyers today.