Alternative Dispute Resolutions (“ADR”) include divorce mediation, arbitration, and collaborative family law. Kentucky Courts regularly order family law cases to mediation, but arbitration is used much less frequently.
What is arbitration? The American Bar Association describes arbitration as “a private process where disputing parties agree that one or several individuals can make a decision about the dispute after receiving evidence and hearing arguments.” Thus, arbitration is something to consider when privacy is important, or when an arbitrator with a particular expertise would be especially helpful.
Arbitration requires an agreement to arbitrate that fixes the power of the arbitrator, the degree of trial court and appellate review, compensation of the arbitrator, and the discovery process. Unlike mediation, arbitration requires a “court-like” hearing. The arbitration hearing is generally more informal than a court trial, but the proceedings are recorded and result in a written order tendered by the arbitrator to the trial court judge along with findings of fact and conclusions of law. As with motions to alter, amend or vacate, parties to the arbitration may move for amendment within the time set out in the arbitration agreement.
Arbitration awards may be more difficult to appeal, except for child related matters, than trial court judgments, depending upon the agreement of the parties within the arbitration agreement.
This is an update by Elizabeth M. Howell of a blog post “HOW DIVORCE ARBITRATION WORKS” originally written by Diana L. Skaggs in October 2006.