Arbitration for Divorce and Custody Issues
If you are having trouble resolving custody issues, arbitration is another available resolution option. As with mediation, sometimes the courts order couples to arbitration to resolve their differences.
How is arbitration different from mediation?
Unlike mediation, where the mediator acts as a neutral third party and is not allowed to give opinions, the arbitrator’s job is to render an opinion, after listening to both spouses present their views.
In mediation, the mediator conveys information from you to your spouse and tries to find a common ground where you can compromise and reach an agreement. The structure of mediation is considerably informal. The mediator may even help with drafting a settlement agreement.
By comparison, arbitration is a much more formal process, more like a trial. The arbitrator listens to what you and your spouse have to say to support your positions on why custody arrangements should be a certain way. After the presentation of all views and information, the arbitrator makes a decision, which the Texas Family Code refers to as an award.
Based on Texas Family Code Section on Arbitration Procedures, the court can refer a lawsuit to arbitration to resolve the parent-child relationship, but you and your spouse must sign a written agreement beforehand stating whether the arbitration is binding or non-binding. If you agree to binding arbitration, the arbitrator’s decision stands, unless the court decides that it is not in the child’s best interests. If you disagree with the arbitrator’s decision, then your attorney bears the burden of proof to show at a hearing why the arbitrator’s decision is not just.
Even though you participate in arbitration, consulting with your Texas child custody lawyer is important, so you can protect your rights and the best interests of your child.