Mediation vs. Arbitration
Mediation occurs long before arbitration in the timeline of the case. The mediator is chosen by the Court if the divorcing parties can’t agree upon one and usually goes on for several sessions.
After hearing all of the facts and even reviewing documents, the mediator will make a recommendation. It is just that—a recommendation. It is non-binding on the parties. It is meant to give them a preview of what a Judge or Arbitrator would likely do, much farther down the road, if the case does not settle by agreement of the divorcing parties.
Arbitration is a process agreed upon by the divorcing spouses to take the case out of the Court system. An arbitrator is chosen who has the experience, of course, usually an attorney who specializes in Family Law.
The case literally goes to trial, with opening and closing arguments, exhibits, and rules of evidence, in front of the Arbitrator, with this trial occurring at the Arbitrator’s office, usually in a conference room. When the case concludes, the Arbitrator will write a written decision and issue it to the parties, usually within thirty days. The Arbitrator is “the Judge”.
Mediators and Arbitrators both get paid at their hourly rate, the cost usually being split equally between the parties.