Charlotte Arbitration Attorneys
Alternatives to court for family law matters in North Carolina
Court hearings, especially for issues like divorce and other family law issues, can be stressful, time-consuming, and quite expensive. Some divorcing couples may be able to avoid the problems that come with a trial by using alternative dispute resolution (ADR) solutions like arbitration or mediation. While both of these problem-solving methods can keep you out of the courtroom, they both work very differently. However, they can be a useful and efficient tool for many couples attempting to work through disputes.
The Charlotte family law attorneys at Epperson Law Group, PLLC have extensive experience in all matters of divorce and other marital issues. We can provide customized solutions and strategies tailored to your specific circumstances. Contact us today to find out how we can help you.
What is family law arbitration?
Arbitration is a binding, but voluntary, legal process that happens outside of court. You and your spouse mutually agree to allow a third-party, neutral arbitrator to settle your disputes, much like a judge or jury. Arbitration can be as formal or as informal as you’d like, and is similar to court in that it includes evidence, opposing arguments, and a final written decision.
As laid out by the North Carolina Family Law Arbitration Act, your Charlotte family law arbitrator can settle marital and divorce disputes like:
However, family law arbitration cannot settle family law issues like:
- Granting a divorce
- Granting an adoption or guardianship
- Terminating parental rights
Here’s a quick breakdown of the basics of arbitration as compared to a traditional courtroom divorce.
- Decision-maker. A neutral and third-party arbitrator chosen by both parties to hear the issues and make a ruling.
- Judgement. Your arbitrator’s decision is binding, much like a judge. The arbitrator will make a decision on all disputes then submit it to the court to ensure it is fair and reasonable.
- Setting. Working with an arbitrator is less formal than court, and can be done in an office, a conference room, or (for some cases) even via videoconferencing.
- Time and cost. Arbitration is generally more efficient and cost-effective than going to court, as your case is private and you can meet at your convenience rather than waiting on a docket.
You and your spouse will mutually select an arbitrator, who has the power to issue subpoenas, appoint experts, hear testimony, and examine any evidence. The attorneys at Epperson Law Group, PLLC have extensive experience in both arbitration and mediation, and can answer any preliminary questions you may have about your divorce options.
What’s the difference between arbitration and mediation in NC?
In divorce mediation, a neutral third party listens to each party’s issues, sums up the differing points of view, and suggests ways to resolve their dispute. However, unlike arbitration, a mediator has no power to decide the outcome of the dispute. A mediator’s job is to facilitate and help a divorcing couple work toward resolution on their divorce agreement. If a couple can’t find resolution via mediation, they’ll then be required to go through the courts.
What are the pros and cons of arbitration?
As with anything in law and in life, there are positives and negatives associated with arbitration. Your Charlotte attorney can provide guidance on what may be best for you and your spouse.
Benefits of arbitration
The pros of arbitration include:
- Flexibility. With arbitration, all parties can mutually agree on the rules to follow during proceedings that can best meet the specific needs of the case.
- Freedom of choice. You and your spouse can select your arbitrator together, choosing a trusted attorney with experience in the area of alternative dispute resolution.
- Privacy. Your hearing takes place outside of court and outside the eyes of the public. Additionally, any documents and materials submitted as evidence are not filed as public record. This can be an attractive option for sensitive divorces or high net-worth couples.
- Resolution. Once your dispute is resolved, it’s resolved. Your arbitrator makes a ruling and the court confirms the award. Unlike court, there is little to no chance for making lengthy appeals that can take months or years to wrap up.
- Time. Arbitrating a family law issue usually takes less time from beginning to end than a court proceeding. When courts are overloaded or even closed for long periods, your case can be delayed. Alternative dispute methods can eliminate this problem.
Disadvantages of arbitration
Cons of arbitration include:
- Decision is binding. Although a binding decision is an advantage for one party, it may not be for the other. An arbitrated decision provides little to no right to appeal.
- Cost. Although arbitration is less costly than litigation, it may be more costly than an easily-negotiated settlement. An attorney can help you decide what’s right for you.
- Enforcement. An arbitrator cannot enforce a ruling. If a spouse doesn’t comply with an order, the other spouse may have to go to court to force them to comply.
The divorce attorneys at Epperson Law Group, PLLC in Charlotte can help you weigh the advantages and disadvantages of arbitration. Contact us today.
Providing legal services and arbitration in uncertain times
One of the most unique advantages arbitration provides is flexibility. With the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in North Carolina and around the world, courtrooms are closed and everyone – including attorneys – is working from home. However, this doesn’t mean that you don’t have options. Law firms and attorneys have always been able to accommodate clients with illnesses, inability to travel or secure child care, or any number of reasons they cannot physically visit the office. If your family law issue requires arbitration, you may be able to resolve it without having to wait for the courts to re-open via videoconferencing.
Through technology like Skype, Zoom, and other conferencing programs, arbitrators and clients can share information and work through disputes. This can help free up the bottleneck that is sure to come when state and federal courts open once again, as well as help get your case resolved now rather than later.
Our attorneys are ready to help. Attorney James Epperson is a Certified Mediator and Certified Arbitrator. Attorney Steve Ockerman is a Board-Certified Specialist in Family Law in North Carolina.
Experienced divorce arbitration lawyers
Arbitration is an alternative to a traditional courtroom divorce. You can save time, money and, in some circumstances, resolve your issues through videoconferencing or other creative solutions. Contact us today for knowledgeable guidance. You’ll find our offices right off Exit 57 from I-485. To reserve a consultation with one of our lawyers in Charlotte, Boone, or Weddington, please call 704-321-0031 or fill out our contact form.