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Can We Resolve Our Michigan Divorce Using Arbitration?

Posted on in Divorce

Novi divorce attorneysThe vast majority of Michigan divorces are now settled outside of court. Trial litigation in a courtroom is reserved for the most difficult cases when couples absolutely cannot agree on important issues or when there is the presence of a serious problem like domestic violence or a spouse who lies on their financial disclosures. 

For all other cases, various alternative dispute resolution methods can be very helpful. One popular method is mediation, but arbitration is another viable strategy. Some couples include a mandate to resolve disputes using arbitration in their prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. Other couples decide on arbitration when they begin talking about divorce, believing a neutral third party may make decisions better than they can. Whatever the method you eventually decide on for managing your divorce disagreements, knowing more about arbitration can help you determine whether it is right for you. 

How Does Arbitration Work? 

While arbitration shares a few similarities with mediation, the two are different in important ways. Arbitration actually functions more like a court hearing in front of a judge;  with the help of their attorneys, both spouses present their evidence and make their arguments to an arbitrator. Spouses may use expert testimony, cross-examine each other’s witnesses, and even make opening and closing statements. Like a trial judge, an arbitrator will make legally binding decisions, leaving spouses with far less flexibility to make decisions about their case than they have in mediation. For couples who struggle to compromise, this is not always a bad thing. 

Is Arbitration or Mediation Better? 

The method you use depends on your circumstances and preferences. Spouses who are high conflict or who do not trust each other to negotiate in good faith may find arbitration more useful because there is less negotiation and the arbitrator’s decisions are final. Some couples do a combination of both; they start by using a mediator to resolve issues they are less conflicted about and then move on to arbitration for the remaining issues. Regardless of whether spouses use arbitration, mediation, or some combination of the two, a Michigan family law judge must approve the final agreement before it becomes legally enforceable. 

Get in Touch with a Farmington Hills Divorce Attorney

No matter which path you choose for your divorce, you can get help negotiating your divorce terms from the experienced Oakland County divorce attorneys with Elkouri Heath, PLC. We are committed to assisting you in your divorce using whatever method best suits your circumstances and preferences. Call us today at 248-344-9700 to schedule a free initial consultation. 




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