Arbitration and mediation are two forms of alternative dispute resolution that are available to parties in a family law dispute. Mediation is a process in which the parties use a neutral third party trained in problem-solving to help them resolve their dispute. The job of a mediator is to act as a negotiator and try to assist the parties to come to a final agreement on any outstanding issues short of going to court.
Arbitration is similar to mediation in that a neutral third party is selected by the parties to preside over their dispute, but differs in important respects. Arbitration resembles proceedings in a court case – the parties usually use lawyers, exchange information and have a hearing where they question witnesses and present their cases – but the process is less formal than court. The arbitrator is chosen by the parties and his or her decision (known as an “award”) is binding, just like a court order, and can be enforced by the courts if either of the parties fails to comply with it.
Both parties must agree to use the arbitration process. It is sometimes preferred over going to court as what happens in the hearing remains private (court hearings are open to the public, except in very limited circumstances) and it can sometimes lead to a quicker resolution than court since scheduling an arbitration hearing does not depend on a court’s schedule.
In addition to representing parties to both mediations and arbitrations, Max Blitt is a well-respected Arbitrator.