Mediation and Arbitration
Mediation and Arbitration
When it comes to understanding mediation and arbitration, it’s important that the benefits of both options are well understood. Call us today for a free phone consultation on what makes the most sense for your case.
A mediation usually involves each party, with or even without their legal counsel, at times a parenting evaluator or guardian ad litem, if the dispute involves children, or other experts such as property appraisers, accountants, etc., in person or by report, and a mediator, who is usually an attorney or retired judge, or even a sitting judge, who has at least seven or more years experience with family law matters. The most promising part of mediation is that both parties remain fully in control of fashioning relief that they deem necessary. The right to litigate one’s disputes in a court of law is a legal right established by the Constitution, statute, and common law, but, it may be limited in scope to the issues outlined by the legislature or the judge. A mediation involves agreement by the parties over any issues they choose to mediate, and, if the parties reach agreement, they may enforce their agreement like a contract through the courts, so, suddenly, it is not just the judge or the legislature who has made the decision as to what is important, it is the parties themselves who have decided what is important. Sometimes, a mediation can be very brief, and sometimes it can be very long.
At TLC, our attorneys have sat on all sides of the mediation table, in favor of husband’s wives, girlfriends, boyfriends, and as the mediator. Mediation is a confidential process and in almost all cases cannot be used against a party if the case does not settle. You may find detailed information regarding Washington State RCW’s regarding divorce and mediation on our web site.
Counseling is a form of alternative dispute resolution that involves a mental health professional. Usually, when counseling is elected as a form of dispute resolution, the parties have designated an agreed counselor with whom they have had a prior relationship. Agreements reached in counseling are often similar to agreements reached in mediation, except, because such agreements are often drafted by non attorneys, it is advisable to have your agreement ultimately reviewed by and approved by an attorney to insure that agreements are understandable and enforceable in court. An agreement that is not enforceable is just a waste of time. A TLC attorney can assist you in ensuring that the spirit of your agreement is contained within the body of the agreement.
An arbitration is like a “mini” trial where the parties are usually represented by attorneys, but, a third party, an arbitrator, will ultimately decide the dispute. It is unlike a trial in that, in arbitration, you are rarely if ever in a courtroom, and although evidence is taken under oath like a trial, it is usually streamlined because the rules of evidence are relaxed and certain court procedures are less formal. Arbitrations are sometimes subject to “Mandatory Arbitration Rules” and sometimes are subject to the rules set forth by the individual arbitrator. Under Washington State law, in some cases, arbitration is binding and a party has waived all their appeal rights. In other cases, under Washington State Law, an arbitration decision may be appealed to the Superior Court, the Court of Appeals and to the Supreme Court just like a decision made by a court commissioner or in a lower court.
A TLC attorney can let you know what rights you have if you are subject to an arbitration clause.
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