Arbitration is another option for parties who would like a binding agreement but do not require a judge’s intervention. The key difference between mediation and arbitration relates to the role of the neutral party. An arbitrator functions much like a judge, taking testimony, evaluating evidence and rendering a decision. A mediator is a facilitator, an intermediary between the parties who will draft an agreement but will not render judgment.
During arbitration, parties provide details of the case to a neutral arbitration attorney who will create the binding decision. Arbitration cases are often resolved in a relatively short amount of time and do not proceed to a divorce trial where all aspects of the divorce are a public matter. Unlike mediation, parties who agree to arbitration must understand that the arbitrator will make the final determination on all matters. Spouses will not have a say in the decision, and the case will not go to trial.