Arbitration and other forms of alternative dispute resolution have often been sought after as alternatives to litigation. The process is similar to litigation in that a neutral party decides the case and the decision can be binding. Parties provide evidence and testimony to bolster their side of the case. However, arbitration offers a number of benefits over litigation, such as the ability to resolve the case more quickly and usually for less money than the equivalent process would take with litigation.
An arbitrator assigned to an asset distribution case is often a retired judge or family law attorney. This individual is usually familiar with a number of aspects of family law. In 41 states, equitable distribution is used to determine how to divide assets between two spouses. The end result does not have to be equal as in 50/50 agreements, but it should be fair.
An arbitrator may consider a number of factors in making his or her decision, including the length of the marriage. If a couple was married for a long time, a more equal distribution may be more fair than if someone married a much wealthier individual and then sought divorce soon after. An arbitrator may also consider the income and property that each spouse brought into the marriage. The arbitrator will want to evaluate the education, earning capacity, age and health of each spouse to determine future likely earnings. Additionally, arbitrators may consider the contribution that each spouse made to the marriage and the family, as well as to the earning power, training or education of the other. How any potential award may affect the children may also be evaluated.
An arbitrator can use his or her knowledge of the law and experience in order to make a decision in the case so that the spouses can move on.