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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.