Understanding Divorce Mediation Versus Arbitration

The process of divorce can be financially, mentally and emotionally draining. However, that does not always have to be the case.

Especially when parties work together amicably, an efficient divorce is possible. Mediation and arbitration are two common alternatives to traditional divorce proceedings, and it is important to understand the differences between the two.


Mediation is a common court alternative for divorcing parties. In some cases, it may even be court-mandated. A trained mediator leads mediation, aiding divorcing parties in making key decisions regarding essential aspects of the divorce process, such as spousal support, child custody and child support. The mediator does not take sides and does not make any decisions. Rather, she or he serves as a guide to aid parties in coming to agreements amongst themselves. This can prove beneficial in moving past the mediation, especially for those who have children together.


Unlike mediation, an arbitrator who makes binding decisions in regards to the divorce leads the arbitration. However, the two parties still have the opportunity to negotiate certain terms for themselves, allowing them to maintain some control. The arbitration is also quicker and private, so many aspects of the divorce do not become public record.

Making a selection

When choosing between mediation and arbitration, parties should keep a few things in mind. It really depends on what is most important to the parties and how well they can work together. For example, parents who desire to maintain more control over the outcome, for instance, in determining the parenting plan, may find mediation to be a better choice. On the other hand, those who believe they need a professional to listen and intervene may benefit from arbitration. 

Each relationship is different, and as such, different solutions may benefit different people. It is important to consider the options and their possible outcomes to select the best choice for a particular situation.

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