Arbitration is a process in which an arbitrator or panel of arbitrators renders a decision after hearing an abbreviated version of the evidence. The process can be binding, meaning the decision of the Arbitrator is final. The process may also be non-binding, meaning the decision of the Arbitrator is not final and may then serve as a case evaluation. The parties may agree to adopt the non-binding decision as binding.
The overall procedure of the hearing, including the rules of evidence, are relaxed allowing for a less stressful environment for the presentment of your case. You may present evidence in writing or by oral testimony. After the hearing, the Arbitrator renders a decision in writing.
The process can be more efficient and save parties money. Litigation can be costly and getting before a Judge can often take longer than anticipated. Arbitration allows the parties to schedule a hearing that is convenient to them, their attorneys and the Arbitrator. Since the hearing procedure itself may be relaxed, discovery can also be narrowed, saving the parties valuable time and money. Finally, the process is confidential. Your issues will not be open to the public consumption of the courtroom.
Georgia allows parties to arbitrate all property and financial matters ancillary to their divorce, separation or dissolution. If the parties agree, the decision of the Arbitrator will be binding as if a Judge decided the matter.
As of 2008, parties may also agree to binding arbitration on the issue of child custody as well as matters related to visitation, parenting time and the parenting plan. The Arbitrator’s decision shall be incorporated into a final decree awarding child custody unless the Judge makes specific written factual findings that under the circumstances the award would not be in the best interest of the child or children. O.C.G.A. §19-9-1.1
Denise D. VanLanduyt, Esq. is both a certified Mediator and a certified Arbitrator. Licensed to practice law since 2000, Ms. VanLanduyt has 11 years experience as a family law attorney. She is a founding member of the Family Law Section of the DeKalb Bar Association. Ms. VanLanduyt is a frequent speaker on topics related to family law.
Contact us to learn more or to schedule an Arbitration.