What Is Arbitration?

Arbitration is a method to resolve some or all issues in a case in a binding manner. It can take many forms. In Oregon, there are statutes that require arbitration of some kinds of family law cases. In that event, arbitration is like a fast track, streamlined, and inexpensive trial. If either party disagrees with the arbitrator’s decision, he or she can ask for a trial in the Circuit Court, but that party may have an increased risk of paying the other side’s attorney fees if the result is not better than the one received in arbitration.

Parties can also agree to arbitrate all or some issues in their case with a private arbitrator, who is usually an experienced lawyer or retired judge. There are different kinds of formal rules that may be used for the arbitration, or the parties can arbitrate in a very informal manner. By agreement, any divorce issue could be subject to binding arbitration, without the right to appeal, subject to the court’s final approval of the result. For example, if there is an agreement that the parties should sell their home, but there is no agreement about the listing agent, the listing price, and other mechanics of sale, the parties may agree to have an arbitrator make binding decisions about these issues, so that the home sale can be expedited. By agreement, virtually any family law issue can be arbitrated.

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