Mediation vs. Arbitration

If you are considering divorce, you should know that there are two options that do not require you to go to court. Mediation and arbitration are two options that take place outside of court and use an unbiased third-party to resolve disputes.


Arbitration allows you to avoid a lengthy and expensive court battle. The actual arbitrator is an unbiased attorney hired by both sides to listen to all arguments and evidence and render an objective decision.

The arbitration process is more informal and less expensive than court proceedings because you avoid full court schedules and oppressive court procedures. In addition, the arbitration process takes place in a comfortable meeting room rather than the busy courthouse.

Both parties need to decide beforehand if the decision of the arbitrator will be binding or not. If not, the arbitrator serves in an advisory role and his decision is not required to be followed. On the other hand, if both parties agree, the final decision of the arbitrator will become a court order, just as if a judge had handed down his judgment.


Mediation allows both the husband and wife to come to a mutually agreeable arrangement. The mediator does not individually counsel either party, but collects data, sets the guidelines and makes sure both sides follow those rules.

Choosing mediation does not eliminate the need for a divorce attorney, but it does require communication between each party. Occasionally, both parties only need the help of a mediator for complex divorce issues such as child support, child custody, or property division.

Unlike the arbitrator, a mediator has no power to decide a case. Instead, they facilitate an agreed settlement between both parties. Mediation can be a precursor to the court process; and, if no resolution is reached, then both parties can move forward with arbitration or litigation.

Contact a family law attorney to help you decide if arbitration or mediation is best. Both parties must agree to use either of these options. If your spouse does not want to participate, you cannot compel them and you are probably headed to court.

Keep in mind there is no lawyer-client privilege in mediation or arbitration, therefore anything you say could be brought up later if you are forced to go to divorce court.

Hiring a Divorce Lawyer

If you or your spouse decides mediation or arbitration is not an option, contact a divorce lawyer. Divorce lawyers understand divorce laws and can review your divorce and make sure you find an option that works best for you and your family.