Arbitration in Pennsylvania Divorce and Custody Cases

How Does Arbitration Work in Family Law?

Can parties hire a “private judge” to decide their divorce or custody case? The answer is yes. Parties can also divorce mediation PA services should they choose to. Parties can utilize a process called arbitration. A family law attorney can handle this for you. When parties choose to arbitrate, they hire an arbitrator to make decisions in their case. The parties can agree to binding or non-binding arbitration. The parties can decide the degree of formality that they want to follow with regard to presentation of witnesses and exhibits. Arbitration is similar to litigation in that a third party is making decisions for the parties. This process may be attractive to parties in that they can control the pace and scheduling of proceedings. They can choose to have an arbitrator decide portions of the case or the entire case. They parties can also maintain privacy — something divorce and custody litigation doesn’t provide.

Frequently Asked Questions About Arbitration in Pennsylvania Family Law

What is family arbitration?

Family law arbitration is an alternative dispute resolution method that can save separating couples time, costs and emotional hassle. An Arbitrator is involved and after presented with all available evidence they provide judgment on the circumstances. Arbitration offers flexibility to parties to develop their own terms in the separation process, including financial and child visitation disputes. In a relatively informal ambiance, divorcing spouses can maintain privacy and confidentiality.

How does arbitration work in divorce?

During Divorce Arbitration couples seek to resolve their case in a private setting before an Arbitrator instead of going to public court. Parties have the option to choose an arbitrator who has experience in a specific area of interest, such as real-estate value, property division or management. Arbitrators are usually able to move cases along more quickly than judges do by scheduling the sessions within shorter time intervals. In Pennsylvania law the arbitrator’s decision is final and can’t be challenged in court except for custody and child support issues. 

How does arbitration work in child custody?

An arbitrator can decide child custody and support disputes so long as the spouses agree. Pennsylvania law is clear that a decision affecting child support or custody can be undone by the court if the judge is convinced that the child’s interest was not protected.

What is the difference between a mediator and an arbitrator?

In the arbitration process the arbitrator gives their judgment based on the presented evidence. They do not facilitate negotiations in the same way as mediators do. The mediator discusses the dispute with the spouses and explores with each party possible ways of resolution. Their role is to help couples understand each other’s positions and offer unique resolutions.

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