What is Arbitration?

Hossein Berenji, Mar 26, 2018

Are you thinking about getting a divorce? Will you and your spouse have difficulting agreeing on the terms of your split? Do you want to keep the details of your divorce private? You may want to consider using the alternative dispute resolution tool of arbitration.

What is Arbitration?

Arbitration is an alternative dispute resolution process that may be helpful to couples seeking a divorce. Couples who have difficulty agreeing on the terms of their divorce, or those like Tarek and Christina El Moussa who want to keep their divorces private, can benefit from choosing to use arbitration. The process allows couples to bypass the traditional divorce process, stay out of the courtroom, and keep decisions in their own hands. With the help of a neutral third-party, spouses can privately negotiate the terms of their split.

Benefits of Arbitration

If you are thinking about getting a divorce, you may want to consider going through arbitration. Benefits of arbitration include:

  • Less expensive than pursuing a divorce in front of a judge
  • Less time-consuming than the traditional divorce process
  • Negotiations, communication, and details of the arbitration process are private
  • Encourages spouses to split amicably, and
  • Less stressful for children affected by the divorce.

Divorce Arbitration Process

Here is a brief overview of the divorce arbitration process in California.

Agree to Arbitration

Couples must mutually agree to negotiate the terms of their divorce using arbitration. Just because one spouse wants to use arbitration does not take away the other spouse’s right to file a formal request for divorce with the local court.

In some cases, spouses may insert a clause in a prenuptial agreement requiring the use of arbitration in the event of a divorce.

Choosing an Arbitrator

Arbitration is essentially like an informal trial. Instead of a judge presiding over the matter, a mutually-agreed upon neutral party is empowered to make decisions relevant to the proceedings. Both spouses present arguments, evidence, and testimony to the arbitrator, who then determines the best resolution.

All decisions made by this arbitrator will be final and binding. It is important for spouses to choose someone who is qualified to understand the complexities of the legal issues at hand. Many times, an arbitrator is a former judge or family law attorney.

Stipulating to Rules and Procedures

Couples have the power, with the help of their family law attorneys, to establish certain ground rules and procedures for the arbitration process. This allows the spouses to retain control over the environment and the outcome of the proceedings.

Spouses can limit the amount of time the process can take, schedule when and where the hearing will take place, and set other administrative rules that may be helpful.

Arbitration Hearing

Spouses can choose to present information themselves or use the guidance of an experienced attorney. Each spouse will have an opportunity to make their case in front of the arbitrator, outlining what they want to get out of the divorce, and why. Witnesses (including character witnesses and expert witnesses) may be presented on behalf of one or both spouses. The arbitrator will consider all testimony, evidence, and arguments that are presented.


The neutral third party will make decisions about any terms of the divorce that may be necessary. The final ruling will include details about property division, spousal support, child custody, and child support. If you choose to use arbitration, you should be prepared to accept the final ruling presented by the arbitrator.

Get Help With Your California Divorce

California allows couples to choose from a variety of different options to negotiate a divorce. Arbitration can be a cost-effective tool to help spouses who cannot agree on the terms of their divorce. Since the arbitration process is private, it is also a great way to shield the details of high-net worth divorces.

If you are thinking about getting a divorce, contact the Los Angeles family law attorneys at Berenji & Associates for help. We will review your situation and explain the options that may be available to you. Alternative methods of getting a divorce, including arbitration, can be extremely beneficial. Call us today to learn more.