The end of your marriage will inevitably bring stress and complication to your life, even if you and the other party agree to be amicable and work together to resolve divorce matters. In order to reduce the complications of your divorce and have more control over the terms of your final order, you may decide to avoid court and seek an out-of-court resolution to your divorce. In most cases, this approach will save you time, money, and stress. It’s best to avoid trial if possible because it often costs three or four times the cost of an agreed divorce.
Even if you both want to resolve your divorce out of court, that does not guarantee that you and your partner or spouse can resolve all of the issues between the two of you. The final orders in a divorce have to use certain mandatory forms. You must provide very detailed information about assets, debts, and spousal maintenance. If you have children, you have to agree on a very detailed Parenting Plan, and child support must be calculated using the mandatory Child Support Worksheet form. If you would like to avoid litigation and still find a reasonable solution to ongoing matters, alternative dispute resolution (ADR) may be the ideal solution to reaching an agreement. This means either mediation or arbitration.
What’s the difference?
Mediation and arbitration are both ways to resolve ongoing legal disputes in a way that eliminates the need for litigation. While mediation and arbitration are similar, in that they allow you to avoid litigation, there are distinct differences between arbitration and mediation. You will benefit from understanding how these two processes work and which will be most beneficial for your individual situation.
There are distinct differences between these two processes, and the right choice for you will depend on the details of your individual situation. As you consider your options, the following information may be helpful:
- Mediation — Mediation is a process of resolving disputes with the assistance of a neutral third party – a mediator. The mediator will encourage conversations between the two parties, sometimes offering suggestions and indicating how a court might react to certain proposals. An experienced mediator can be very helpful in reaching an agreement under Civil Rule 2A. A CR2A agreement is a binding contract that is enforceable in Family Court.
- Arbitration — Arbitration is a binding legal process that functions in many ways like a trial court, but is more informal and a lot less expensive. An arbitrator takes evidence (testimony, exhibits, etc.) and makes a final decision in the case, just like a judge. You will be able to present evidence that supports your claim for a specific outcome. Either party can appeal the arbitrator’s decision to Superior Court, but almost no one does that, because if the appealing party does not improve their position in court, they have to pay the other party’s attorney fees in addition to their own.
Protect your interests
Even if you do not go to court, it is still imperative to know how to protect your interests and seek the best possible outcome to your Washington State divorce case. Whether it is through mediation or arbitration, you can seek terms that will allow you to look to the future with confidence. This article should help you determine which ADR method is most suitable for your individual situation.