Our top pick: Rocket Lawyer
- 7-day free trial
- Personal or business legal advice
- On-call attorneys
- Create custom legal documents
Finder is committed to editorial independence. While we receive compensation when you click links to partners, they do not influence our opinions or reviews. Learn how we make money.
Divorce arbitration can help expedite your divorce and keep you out of court. But you and your spouse will have to agree to use an arbitrator, whose final decision is binding.
Divorce arbitration is a divorce trial that is held privately instead of in a public courtroom. You and your spouse choose and hire an arbitrator. The arbitrator, who is similar to a judge, hears arguments from both sides, considers the evidence and renders an enforceable decision — they don’t facilitate negotiations.
An arbitrated divorce is faster and less formal than a traditional divorce trial but isn’t available in every state. The arbitration session might last a few hours or a few days, depending on how complicated your situation is.
Similar to how a judge’s decision is binding, the arbitrator’s decision is also permanent. There are no do-overs, and you generally can’t appeal the decision in an arbitrated divorce.
Divorce arbitration is a good option to resolve specific issues in a contested divorce, such as alimony or property division. But you and your spouse must be able to communicate and agree to the following: the arbitrator, the time and place of the hearing and the fact that the arbitration concludes with a binding decision that everyone must follow.
For collaborative divorces, consider using a service the specializes in online marital separation.
Divorce arbitration is similar to a trial because there are specific rules and procedures that you must follow. After you agree on an arbitrator, here’s what you can expect to happen:
A divorce case traditionally goes through the court system, where the trial and all documents are open to the general public. And the hearing from a litigated divorce is scheduled based on the judge’s availability, which can be delayed depending on the court’s calendar.
On the other hand, arbitration happens privately between you, your spouse, respective legal representation and the arbitrator at a scheduled time and place that is convenient for everyone. While the records are still public, the actual hearing is private.
Arbitrators charge an hourly or daily rate. The average hourly rate of a legal arbitrator was $40 in 2019, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
But rates can vary depending on the arbitrator’s experience and geographic location. In some areas, a full day of arbitration can cost anywhere between $1,000 to $2,000 or more.
You should also be prepared to pay for discussions, called executive sessions, that may happen before and after the hearing. The divorcing couple may be responsible for additional costs, including travel and meals. In some cases, arbitration may be as costly as litigation.
Divorce arbitration has distinct advantages over a court trial:
There are some drawbacks to the arbitration route:
Consider hiring some help to guide you through your divorce.
Divorce arbitration can be more efficient and cost-effective than a court trial. But both you and your spouse need to agree to it, and you won’t be able to appeal the arbitrator’s final award.
If an arbitrated divorce isn’t right for you or it’s not allowed in your state, consider other options for divorce.
finder.com is an independent comparison platform and information service that aims to provide you with the tools you need to make better decisions. While we are independent, the offers that appear on this site are from companies from which finder.com receives compensation. We may receive compensation from our partners for placement of their products or services. We may also receive compensation if you click on certain links posted on our site. While compensation arrangements may affect the order, position or placement of product information, it doesn't influence our assessment of those products. Please don't interpret the order in which products appear on our Site as any endorsement or recommendation from us. finder.com compares a wide range of products, providers and services but we don't provide information on all available products, providers or services. Please appreciate that there may be other options available to you than the products, providers or services covered by our service.