What Is The Difference Between Mediation & Arbitration?


Divorce can be a long and difficult process, especially with a grueling trial at the end of it. Processes like mediation and arbitration are common ways of making a divorce more efficient and handling disputes without the need for trial. They can help to make a divorce quicker, less stressful, and less expensive. While the two processes have many things in common, there are also important differences between them.

In both mediation and arbitration, the spouses will present their side of things to a neutral third party. During a mediation, couples are guided through a negotiation with each-other about what they want and what they can compromise on; they can go back-and-forth and work towards a mutual agreement. During an arbitration, each spouse presents their case to an impartial “judge” who will decide what is fair; the spouses don’t spend much, if any, time working things out with each other. This means that mediation will allow a couple more flexibility with how they talk about and solve their differences, while arbitration offers more structure.  

Another key difference between mediation and arbitration is the finality of the proposed divorce agreement. At the end of mediation, the mediator will propose a divorce agreement that the spouses are free to either accept or reject. At the end of arbitration, the judge will announce a divorce decree, which couples have usually agreed to follow before-hand. This means that spouses may not always be allowed to reject the outcome of arbitration. 

If you are considering mediation or arbitration, an experienced divorce attorney can help you finalize your divorce without ever going to court. Please contact Kirker|Davis if you would like more information.


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This page has been written, edited, and reviewed by a team of legal writers following our comprehensive editorial guidelines. This page was approved by Co-founding Partner, Chris Kirker who has more than 20 years of legal experience as a personal injury attorney.

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