Arbitration Attorneys in Winston-Salem & Greensboro
Family law and divorce options for ending your marriage in the Piedmont Triad
The decision to divorce is a difficult one, and even after you make that one, there are still more. One of these is choosing how to proceed. Just a few decades ago, the only choice divorcing couples had was litigation. Today, however, couples have a variety of options, including mediation, collaborative law, and family law arbitration. These different options allow spouses to end their marriage in the way they choose.
Divorce arbitration can be a time-saving and less costly alternative when spouses desire to settle their marital disputes out of the courtroom. The experienced family law attorneys at Hartsoe & Associates, P.C. help couples through the arbitration process, offering both secular and Christian-based arbitration and mediation services.
What is divorce arbitration in North Carolina?
In divorce arbitration, each spouse agrees to have their issues heard by a neutral third party called an arbitrator. These issues can include things like alimony, child custody, property division, and child support.
Each party has a chance to present their case, including evidence and any witness testimony. Arbitration is similar, but not the same, as a trial, and each side can question the other side’s witnesses. The arbitrator can also ask questions, much like a judge.
At the end of arbitration, each side can give a closing argument and the arbitrator will make a decision regarding all the matters at hand. Each party is expected to abide by this binding decision, unless the arbitration contract allows for an appeal.
What is the difference between arbitration and litigation?
Divorce arbitration differs from taking your divorce to court in that it is less formal than a traditional trial. Both you and your spouse present your side like a trial, but the process is more relaxed and the arbitrator has the flexibility to run the proceedings as he or she wishes. This can make arbitration a more personalized process. However, you should approach arbitration as you would a court case, with the appropriate preparation.
How does divorce arbitration differ from mediation?
Mediation, collaborative law, and arbitration are both alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods, but do have some key differences. In mediation, proceedings are driven primarily by each party and the mediator facilitates the negotiations. With arbitration, however, the arbitrator acts more as a judge, listening to each party’s side and issuing a binding decision at the end of the process.
North Carolina has its own comprehensive arbitration statute called The Family Law Arbitration Act, which governs the arbitration process. Arbitration is not mandatory for divorcing couples, but it offers many advantages over going to court.
What are the benefits of divorce arbitration in North Carolina?
Arbitration offers several advantages over taking your divorce to trial. These benefits include:
- Confidentiality. Because arbitration takes place in private offices and not a courtroom, parties need not worry about details of the divorce becoming public. You and your spouse can work out these issues in privacy, which is beneficial in cases of high-profile or complex divorces.
- Flexibility. Divorce is not bound to the court’s schedule, which means you do not have to wait for the court docket to clear. You can schedule arbitration at a time convenient to all parties.
- Timely resolution. Typically, divorce arbitration moves more quickly and more efficiently than courtroom litigation. The process will go at the pace you and your spouse want it to go.
Hartsoe & Associates in Winston-Salem offers trained arbitrators and arbitrating services if you are experiencing a family law issue but would like to settle it without going to litigation.
How does the arbitration process work?
Because arbitration can be as formal or as informal as you want it, you can arrange it to suit your specific needs and those of your spouse. Generally, however, North Carolina divorce arbitration proceeds like this:
Choose an arbitrator
The first step in Greensboro divorce arbitration is choosing an arbitrator. The attorneys at Hartsoe & Associates can help you select an arbitrator. Because you are not bound to the court system, you and your spouse can choose an arbitrator whose approach and experience fits both the areas you need assistance with, as well as your personal goals for the divorce.
Similar to litigation, arbitration also uses discovery, which is a process where both parties and their attorneys exchange information and prepare their presentations for the arbitrator. During this time both attorneys may discuss certain “ground rules” for the arbitration process, about what issues will be addressed during arbitration and what issues will not.
If either attorney wishes to file a motion, they can do so at this time. Often these matters can be dealt with via telephone or email, eliminating the need for in-person meetings.
Hold the arbitration hearing
During the arbitration hearing, which is held in a private office, your attorney and your spouse’s attorney each present their side of the case. They may do so using financial documents, reports, testimony, and any other items, following the rules of your arbitration agreement and any motions filed during discovery.
Some arbitrations can be completed in a day or two. In complicated divorce cases with many issues in dispute, arbitration may be scheduled into one issue per day to allow the arbitrator time to make thoughtful rulings.
Finalize the process
After hearing both sides, the arbitrator will issue a ruling, usually called an award. You can state in your arbitration agreement that an award must be issued within a specific period, for example, 90 days. An arbitrator’s decision is legally binding and cannot be challenged unless the chance to appeal was written into the arbitration agreement. You may also appeal arbitration on the grounds it failed to comply with the North Carolina Family Law Arbitration Act.
After successful arbitration, to finalize the process, our attorneys can file your divorce agreement with the court.
Our Winston-Salem and Greensboro family law arbitration firm can help
Going to court is not the only option for ending a divorce. Alternative dispute resolution allows you and your spouse to handle your affairs more efficiently, in private, and on your terms. The family law attorneys at Hartsoe & Associates, P.C. provide experienced divorce arbitration and mediation services, serving families and clients in Winston-Salem and Greensboro, as well as the Piedmont Triad. To schedule a consultation with an experienced attorney, please call 336-725-1985 or fill out our contact form.