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Arbitration Divorce and Mediation

Often when a couple is going through the divorce process, the judge will send the couple to either mediation or arbitration to work out their divorce agreement before the courts decide anything. The courts would rather a couple determine what is best for themselves since they are the ones who know their situations best. If the couple isn’t able to come to an agreement, then the courts will make their ruling.

There are pros and cons to each of these methods based on your unique circumstances. While they are alike, they do hold some individual differences. The main difference between mediation and arbitration is: Arbitrators rule on or make decisions similar to judges. When two parties agree to arbitration, they agree to follow the ruling of the arbiter without many options for appeal.


Couples may attend mediation by choice or be ordered to do so.  Many times when children and child custody arrangements are involved, the courts will send a pair to mediation before ruling. The judge will pause the divorce proceedings until arbitration is resolved. Mediators do not need any special training and are simply a facilitator of negotiations. If a couple cannot come to an agreement, then the mediator will recommend a course of action for the courts to take. This plan gives the couple an incentive to put effort into their consent so that it is beneficial to both of them.

Benefits of mediation include saving time and money, avoiding a court proceeding, encouraging collaboration and mutual respect, focusing on the best interests of the parents and the children. It is important to hire an attorney who is familiar with the process of mediation. Lawyers are usually involved in the mediation process in an advisory role instead of an advocacy role but are not required to attend mediation sessions. A couple may attend several mediation sessions before coming to a resolution so often an attorney will attend one but is not needed every time.


Like mediation, a couple may choose arbitration or be ordered to participate. Unlike mediation, arbitration is meant to replace a trial and the arbitrator’s ruling is just as binding as the judge’s. There can be a single arbitrator or a panel of arbitrators depending on the circumstances of the situation. Because the role of a mediator is so important and their decisions are final, choosing one selectively is crucial.

The benefits of arbitration include: selecting the date, location, and time of the meeting rather than being at the mercy of the courts schedule, couples have the option to select their arbitrator based on certain criteria such as experience or expertise in an individual subject as well as choosing to focus on particular topics, and privacy and confidentiality rather than a public court trial.

There are different situations where one method may benefit parties better than another method. Some examples for each are:

Circumstances best for Mediation

  •    Divorce agreement details
  •    Determining child custody
  •    Asset and liability division

Circumstances best for Arbitration

  •    When there are jurisdictional issues
  •    When both parties require confidentiality
  •    When a specialist is needed to make a ruling
  •    When time and money are a concern

Syracuse Divorce and Family Law Attorneys

The attorneys of The Bombardo Law Offices specialize in divorce and family law issues. If you are in need of representation for your divorce, and you are in the Syracuse NY area, call Bombardo Law to speak to one of our experienced attorneys about your particular case. We have the knowledge that you can count on to get you through the difficulty of divorce while protecting your interests. Call us at 315-488-5544 or fill out our online contact form and someone will promptly respond to your inquiry.

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