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What is mediation-arbitration?

What is mediation-arbitration?
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National Self-Represented Litigants Project (NSRLP)

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What is mediation-arbitration?
This question has an answer and 5 steps
July 15, 2019

Mediation-arbitration is an alternative dispute resolution process that uses mediation and arbitration to try to resolve legal issues without going to court. It is sometimes called "med-arb".

Mediation-arbitration is voluntary. This means that you and your partner need to agree to use this process. You cannot be forced take part, or forced to agree on your issues. But, if you don’t agree on your issues, the arbitrator decides for you.

First stage

First, partners meet with a mediator. A mediator is a person trained to help you agree on your issues without taking sides. They help you and your partner during your negotiation to try and reach an agreement.

Mediators don’t make decisions and don’t force you or your partner to agree. They help you speak with each other and understand each other's situation. Their goal is to help you both compromise and agree on things.

Second stage

If you can't agree with your mediator's help, you work with an arbitrator.

An arbitrator is a person trained in family law. Many arbitrators are lawyers. They could also be other professionals, like psychologists, with special family law training.

If you and your partner cannot agree, your arbitrator decides your issues. An arbitrator's decision is called a family arbitration award.

You and your partner decide if your mediator and arbitrator are different people, or the same person.

You need independent legal advice (ILA) in order to agree to the mediation-arbitration process.

Your lawyer doesn't have to go to mediation or arbitration with you. They can advise you on:

  • how the law applies to your situation
  • your mediation-arbitration agreement
  • how signing a separation agreement changes your rights

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