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Mediation and Arbitration FAQ

Mediation and Arbitration FAQ

Mediation and Arbitration are different processes through which you can resolve your divorce-related issues without having to go through the court system. Many people prefer to use these methods to efficiently handle their cases. If you think that you might be interested in Mediation or Arbitration, please read the information that we have provided. If you and your spouse think that it may be for you, please contact us to set up a no-obligation consultation so that we can further explain the procedures and answer any questions that you might have.

At Sattin, Ronca & Cornelison, we begin the process with an initial consultation session which provides an orientation to Mediation during which we will tell you how the process works and will answer any questions that you may have. In preparation for the session, we may provide you with forms to fill out which will enable you to start thinking about your marital assets and their values. If, after your orientation, you are interested in continuing the process, we can begin the actual process by starting a mediation session in the time remaining. The initial consultation lasts a total of two hours.

For Arbitration, if you are represented by attorneys, please have them contact our office so that we can discuss the procedure. If you will not be represented, we recommend that you contact our office to schedule a 15 or 20 minute orientation, which can be done in person or by telephone conference. The orientation will introduce the arbitration process and answer any questions that you might have so that you can determine if Arbitration is for you.

Full disclosure in this context is the sharing by the parties of all information regarding their marital and non-marital assets and debts in a divorce Mediation or Arbitration. None of this information can be withheld if the parties wish to get a lasting resolution to their divorce-related issues. It is essential to the process because a lack of disclosure will undermine the process itself and can, ultimately, result in the invalidation of the Mediation or Arbitration.

We recommend that each party retain their own lawyer to advise them throughout the process. In mediation, lawyers typically do not appear at the sessions but are often used as coaches between the sessions so that parties feel confident in the outcome that they would like from the process. In arbitration, the parties typically have their lawyers present at the sessions in order to make arguments and present evidence, if they decide to be represented. However, the parties are not required to have lawyers and, if they choose to do so, they may represent themselves in either Mediation or Arbitration.

It is important to understand that our Mediators and Arbitrators do not act as attorneys for either of the parties in these processes and that ethics do not allow an attorney to represent both parties in a divorce. The role of the Mediator or Arbitrator is not to act as an attorney who provides legal advice but as third party neutral who is charged with helping to bring your divorce related issues to resolution. Each party needs to acquire their own legal knowledge or advice.

Each process has its advantages and disadvantages and the parties should choose the method which is best for them. With Mediation, the parties have complete control over the process and can essentially resolve their issues in virtually any way that they wish as they are the decision makers. However, the process relies upon the parties' willingness and ability to work with each other and to compromise. With Arbitration, once the parties present their evidence, they can rely upon the expertise of the Arbitrator to fashion the ultimate resolution. However, in the case of binding arbitration, the parties are then required to follow the determination of the Arbitrator even if they are not pleased with the outcome. In non-binding arbitration, there is the option to appeal to the Court, but that requires the parties to essentially start the process all over before a Judge, which will substantially increase the time and costs involved.

The main difference between Mediation and Arbitration is that in Mediation, the parties are in control of the process and work along with the help and guidance of the Mediator to resolve their issues. Mediation is a cooperative process. In Arbitration, the parties agree to have a third party, the Arbitrator, make the decision much in the same way as a Judge would. Arbitration is an adversarial process.

Arbitration is a dispute resolution process in which a third party neutral, the arbitrator, hears evidence and renders a decision. Arbitration decisions may be based upon principles of equity and good conscience, as long as these are consistent with the law. The decision may be binding or non-binding, depending upon the agreement of the parties or the existence of a contractual agreement regarding the use of arbitration.

Mediation is a dispute resolution process in which a third party neutral, the mediator, facilitates communication between the parties and, without deciding the issues or imposing a solution upon the parties, enables them to understand and resolve their disputes.

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