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Georgetown Divorce Arbitration

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The last several years have born witness to a significant increase in divorce arbitration. In Georgetown, as well as throughout Williamson County and Texas, divorce arbitration has provided divorcing spouses with a faster, cheaper, and more private alternative to divorce litigation. Please continue reading for a brief overview of arbitration in which we will outline the basics of arbitration, its benefits, and its limitations. We hope that the information below will allow you to familiarize yourself with the options available in divorce and allow you to make a more informed decision about your future.

What is Arbitration?

Arbitration is a form of Alternative Dispute Resolution (“ADR”), meaning that it is an alternative to divorce litigation. ADR provides parties with a few avenues, such as negotiation and mediation, to arrive at a resolution without the time and expense of a formal court proceeding. To engage in arbitration, both parties must consent to its use and the process must follow the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure.

Arbitration has been described as the midpoint between mediation and a formal trial. In arbitration, both parties will present their positions to the arbitrator, an impartial third party who will analyze both parties’ arguments. Arbitrators are fully qualified in the law and most have many years of experience as lawyers or judges. After hearing the arguments, the arbitrator will make a final, binding decision.

Voluntarily Choosing to Arbitrate

As we touched on above, both parties must agree to use arbitration over other forms of ADR or traditional litigation. The agreement to use arbitration can come in many forms. For example, some couples commit to arbitration for any future disputes in their premarital agreements (prenups). Similarly, couples who prefer the decision of a neutral third-party can opt for arbitration in a postnuptial agreement. Such agreements are limited only by the couple’s imaginations. One couple, for example, added a provision to their premarital agreement that required the use of arbitration in case of a dispute relating to the custody of their shared pet. (Pets as property) That couple’s case demonstrated how arbitration can be useful as a preemptive tool, and not simply a reactive one.

Although divorce arbitration can provide some very important benefits (discussed below), it may not be the best choice for some couples. Please continue reading to discover in which situations arbitration can produce the most benefits.

Who is the Arbitrator?

As we mentioned above, arbitrators in Georgetown are impartial, third-party individuals who are approved by both parties. Expertise in the local market is often a key consideration when selecting arbitrators, so most arbitrators will be Georgetown family law attorneys or judges. Additionally, all family law arbitrators have extensive knowledge of Texas family law and have received specialized training to ensure their decisions provide the most benefit to each situation.

What are the Benefits of Arbitration?

While the role of the arbitrator shares some similarities with that of the judge in traditional divorce litigation, arbitration provides some unique benefits.

Note: While divorce arbitration can offer many benefits, the specific circumstances of each case will ultimately determine whether arbitration is a suitable option. A non-exhaustive list of some of the most common benefits of arbitration include:

  • Agency and Control: Many clients enjoy the increased control they wield in arbitration proceedings. In traditional litigation, the parties have no input on who the judge is. By contrast, in arbitration both parties are afforded an opportunity to review the arbitrator candidates before the proceedings begin. Many clients have expressed how this added control increased their confidence in the divorce process.
  • Privacy: Courts are a public forum. As such, their proceedings are public record. This means that (generally) anyone can receive a copy of your case’s court documents. Arbitration avoids this publicity by allowing the parties to engage privately. Arbitration proceedings occur in private local settings and arbitration records are strictly confidential. Couple wilth special confidentiality considerations often cite this aspect as one of the most significant benefits of arbitration.
  • Speed: It is no secret that the courts are routinely overloaded. Busy dockets translate to increased wait times for hearings and, consequently, long, drawn out cases. Georgetown couples seeking a faster resolution often opt for arbitration, which is only limited by the availability of the arbitrator and the parties’ counsel. When divorcing spouses have time-sensitive matters (such as pet custody), the increased speed of arbitration can be an especially important factor.
  • Cost-Effective: A common goal of couples seeking divorce is to keep costs at a minimum. Arbitration can help in this regard. In traditional divorce litigation, increased time means increased costs. Arbitration helps avoid such costs by arriving at a resolution on an expedited timeline. Additionally, arbitration can reduce costs by avoiding the time and expense of a trial jury and (innumerable) motions and hearings.

Contact a Georgetown Divorce Attorney for Help Today

If you would like to learn more about whether arbitration is the right choice for your matter, contact our offices at (512) 746-7399 to speak with one of our experienced Georgetown lawyers today.

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