Arbitration vs. Trial

In Separation & Divorce by Elizabeth Stephenson

The Drawbacks of Trial

We’ve spent our entire lives watching television shows and movies about courtroom battles. There is glamour, conflict, and intrigue that keep us captivated. Unfortunately, real life trials bear little resemblance to what you may envision. If you are going through a divorce or custody dispute, the prospect of trial may be scary and a little exciting. There are some very real risks to consider before proceeding to trial.

  • Trial can be incredibly expensive. You have to pay for costs and fees, including the many hours your attorney prepares for trial and the days your attorney spends in trial with you.
  • Family courts in North Carolina are all overworked and overloaded with cases. It can sometimes take a year or longer to be reached for trial.
  • You may not prevail at trial. Judges and juries can be unpredictable, even if the facts and law are in your favor. This could mean an unfavorable child custody, property division, or alimony ruling. It could mean paying the other side’s attorneys fees.

What about Arbitration?

Courts do not have time for every case to go to trial and appreciate any time an agreement is presented to them instead of a request for trial setting. In addition, public policy dictates that parties should attempt alternative dispute resolution to resolve disputes instead of trial. Arbitration is one form of dispute resolution that a court may choose. This is a semi-formal proceeding in which a third party arbitrator — a former judge or veteran attorney — hears evidence from witnesses and considers exhibits. The rules of evidence apply, so attorneys present this evidence to the arbitrator in a similar manner as trial.

If the arbitration is binding, then the parties cannot appeal the arbitrator’s decision. The judge will subsequently review and adopt the decision as an order of the court. The primary advantage of arbitration is that it can be scheduled much faster than a trial, as you are not constrained by the court’s docket. Instead the parties only have to worry about their own schedules and the arbitrator’s availability. In addition, arbitration is quicker than trial and it takes less time for the arbitrator to reach a resolution. Ultimately, the parties can save a significant amount of money by resolving their dispute through arbitration.

New Direction Family Law has more than a decade of experience fighting for clients in North Carolina. We can provide you with comprehensive legal services relating to dispute resolution and family law. Our team of tough, intelligent attorney serves Wake, Johnston, Lee, Harnett, Cumberland, Nash, Granville, Franklin, and Durham counties. Call us at (919) 719-3470 to schedule a consultation, or contact us at our website.