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arbitrate

Family Law Arbitration*

Arbitration is another type of alternative dispute resolution, which is similar to the court process but can be completed quicker and in a more streamlined manner because the parties sign an agreement to designate the arbitrator. The arbitrator is the person who will act as the judge or decision-maker. In North Carolina, arbitrators are formally trained to act as arbitrators. They are family law attorneys who are specialists in family law who are additionally members of the American Academy of Matrimonial Attorneys, a scholarly organization whose members are recognized as exceptional. Each party customarily pays half of the cost charged by the arbitrator.

The parties also choose the rules the arbitrator will follow in making his or her ruling. The rules may be informal or based upon the rules used by the courts. Rules in an arbitration involve things such as what standards will be used to rule on whether certain evidence should be admitted or excluded.

The arbitrator will have the “trial” in an office, without the restrictions of court, where people are often waiting for trial dates, waiting for their cases to be called the day of the trial, or faced with multiple continuances of their case. In court, judges set the schedule for each day, the lunch break, and even bathroom breaks. In arbitration, cases avoid many of the inefficiencies of court. The arbitration is private and confidential. There is no “public” trial and only the parties and their witnesses (if there are any) are present for the arbitration. Because the parties are hiring the arbitrator privately, the time to process their case could be weeks or months instead of years. A judge in court is a public official who must process everyone’s cases, and is often faced with dozens or even hundreds of other cases. Statewide budget cuts each year do not make the judges’ jobs any easier. 

After evidence is admitted and the parties have testified, the arbitrator will make a ruling (i.e., a decision). The parties agree before the process begins whether the arbitrator will make a final decision, or if that decision may be appealed to an actual court. If the parties in a CFL case agree, their CFL attorneys may continue to represent them in mediation or arbitration if the CFL process is not successful.

  • From the web site of the CDAEC – Collaborative Divorce Association of Eastern Carolina
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