Divorce Arbitration – A hybrid of mediation and trial

In family law, most cases settle prior to trial. In the event a settlement cannot be reached, a trial may be the only sensible option. Both scenarios have been discussed in prior posts. However, the procedure known as divorce arbitration is unique. As outlined below, divorce arbitration encompasses components found in both mediation and a trial. Divorce arbitration can be an effective and important way of resolving divorce matters.


What is Divorce arbitration?

Divorce arbitration is a form of ADR, or alternative dispute resolution. In lieu of trial, parties can elect to go to arbitration. It’s a binding process where an individual (selected by the parties) acts as an arbiter, who renders a decision in the matter.

How does divorce arbitration work?

Although divorce arbitration can be as formal as a divorce trial, it typically is informal. In many ways, it is similar to a mini trial. Testimony and evidence is presented by the parties to the arbitrator, who as indicated above, will make binding decisions in the case. Divorce arbitration, can also share similar components with mediation, which is another form of ADR. Typically, divorce arbitration will occur in the conference room of the selected arbitrator. The arbitrator will hear the positions of both sides. And like, mediation, the process is typically less formal and often less expensive than a formal trial. In trial, process and procedure is much more structured than an arbitration.

Unlike a mediator, however, the arbitrator is not a neutral. He or she will evaluate the testimony and evidence, and make decisions. The parties do not determine their own outcome, like mediation. The decisions, like an opinion at trial, is binding upon the parties.

Generally, parties agree to arbitrate instead of proceeding to trial. This stage in the case may occur if parties are unable to resolve the case at mediation. However, once parties agree to arbitrate, the right to appeal an unfavorable result is very limited. Litigation costs, overall, may be less as there is limited recourse after an arbitration decision, which is called an award. Conversely the ability to appeal the results of a trial is construed more broadly.

Is Divorce arbitration right for me?

Every divorce case is unique. Knowing what is best for you and your specific set of circumstances should be discussed with an experienced attorney at Findling Law. Arbitration can be the right answer depending on the circumstances. Whether your case is just starting or you simply want to learn more about what options you may have, schedule a free consultation with Findling Law.

Kristina Bilowus – Author.

About Findling Law

Findling Law, PLC – 414 W. 5th St. Royal Oak, Michigan 48067

Phone:+1 (248) 399-3300
After hours emergency?+1 (707) 968-7347



I have been exclusively practicing divorce and family law in Michigan for over two decades.  The attorneys at Findling Law all share the core value of practicing law to help people navigate change in their lives, without compromising principles.  We specialize in high socio-economic, high-profile and high-conflict cases, while also working with clients of all backgrounds. We recognize that the most important aspect of the practice of law is the application of the law to your specific circumstances.That is why we provide more free information on divorce and family law than any other Michigan law firm. We want to help you manage your situation. Allow our exceptional legal team to help you navigate the change in your life, without compromising principles.

By:  Daniel Findling

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