Arbitrator can help w/split decisions


            Posted on  Nov 1,2009   

            Arbitrator can help with split decisions

Q. My husband wants us to have all parts of our divorce case decided by an arbitrator, including custody, parenting plan, and child support.
Yes? No? Maybe?

D.S., Dennis

A. Yes, arbitration can be a good way to get most, but maybe not all parts of your case decided by someone you two select. Presumably, you'd choose a former probate court judge who has a solid reputation for making fair and reasonable decisions both as a judge and as an arbitrator.

If so, you'll get the arbitrator's undivided attention when you motions are heard; and you should get much faster decisions. And, if a trial is needed, you get six plus hours a day, which is rare in the probate court. There judges usually start their morning with pretrial and status conferences and maybe an emergency.

All that eats away a lot of trial time while both parties are paying their lawyers and often their experts to sit around until reached by the judge.Make sure your lawyer explains the limited right of appeal from an arbitrator's award versus a full appeal from a judge's decision.

No, because in Massachusetts, the probate court has sole power to make decisions on child related issues. But, the arbitrator can make recommendations to be considered by the judge. And, often, most folks just want to have their say before a fair minded person, whether arbitrator or judge. If so, once the arbitrator rules, you two might agree on custody, parenting plan, and child support.  Maybe, that is all you'd need to do.