An arbitrator is empowered by the parties to make a binding decision on the resolution of the case, in much the same way as the Court’s decision is binding upon the parties. In family law, arbitration is conducted by an independent third party, usually an attorney with many years of experience.
The setting for an arbitration is generally more formal than in mediation. The arbitrator will conduct the session in much the same way as a court hearing, with specific time limits for each party’s proof to be presented and their arguments made. Unlike mediation, the parties and their counsel give the arbitrator the authority to render a binding decision which will have the same authority and power as a court order and which will be enacted by the court through entry of the decision as an order of the court.
In arbitration, the parties cannot participate in the decision-making process but, rather than endure months of delay before getting a court date, can engage an arbitrator who will tender his decision in a much shorter period of time. A quicker resolution is the primary advantage of arbitration.