Alternative dispute resolution methods like arbitration can help resolve issues that a family court judge would otherwise handle. Spouses or ex-spouses can agree to use the arbitration process instead of having to appear in court. For many, more informal dispute resolution like arbitration leads to a less adversarial outcome.
What Is Arbitration?
In arbitration, a neutral person such as a lawyer or retired judge listens to the positions of both spouses on an issue. The parties select the arbitrator. Similar to a judge, this neutral arbitrator considers all the statements and evidence, then makes a decision on the issue. Similar to a court decision, the arbitrator’s decision becomes legally binding if neither party objects.
Unlike a regular trial in a courtroom, arbitration is intended to be less formal, easier, and quicker. The arbitration hearing typically takes place in a conference room on a date that the parties select. Moreover, while arbitration does cost money, it is potentially less costly than a lengthy trial.
When Can You Use Arbitration?
In family law matters, you can use arbitration to resolve most kinds of disputes. The North Carolina Family Law Arbitration Act states that you can agree to arbitrate “all issues arising from a marital separation or divorce, except for the divorce itself, while preserving a right of modification based on substantial change of circumstances related to alimony, child custody, and child support.” In other words, you can arbitrate anything from a child custody dispute to property division. If, however, there is a substantial change in circumstances, then the arbitration decision could be changed at a later date.
How Do You Agree to Use Arbitration?
You can agree to use arbitration in prenuptial and postnuptial agreements or in separation and settlement agreements. Any agreement to use arbitration for family law issues should be in writing, signed by both spouses.
Who Should Consider Arbitration or Other ADR Methods?
Many families can use arbitration and other ADR methods to resolve disputes. You may want to include an arbitration provision in your agreement with your spouse if:
- You prefer a more informal dispute resolution to a formal courtroom environment
- You and your spouse both agree to utilize arbitration
- You have issues about property division or separation that you need to resolve
- You’re concerned about court costs
- You want to move quickly on the property settlement, support, or child custody issues
To discuss including an arbitration provision in your prenuptial, postnuptial, separation, or settlement agreement, speak to a lawyer first. A knowledgeable North Carolina family lawyer can prepare the proper language for the agreement, following North Carolina arbitration and family law.
Let New Direction Family Law Assist You
If you would like to use arbitration to resolve a family law dispute, the team at New Direction Family Law is available today to answer your questions. With decades of combined legal experience, our attorneys are knowledgeable, effective, and compassionate professionals. We will help you understand your legal rights and work hard toward your best outcome. We proudly serve clients in Wake, Johnston, Durham, and surrounding counties. Contact New Direction Family Law at (919) 646-6561 to schedule a consultation, or visit us at our website.