I am often referred to as an arbitrator. In actuality, I am a mediator and there is a difference. While both mediation and arbitration are ways to avoid litigation, there is a big difference. In mediation, you make the decisions with the help of a mediator. In arbitration, a third person (or persons), makes the decision for you.
When decisions involve a child or children, whether they are made by mediation, arbitration or litigation, a judge usually reviews the decisions. It is the responsibility of the judge to approve these decisions since the state is responsible for protecting the best interests of the child.
A mediator assists in developing settlement options and helps you and your partner/spouse work together to make all the decisions. Judges rarely reject what responsible, non-abusive parents, in good faith, decide in mediation.
In arbitration, depending on your prior agreement, the arbitrator decides for you. You may or may not like the decision of the arbitrator. This is similar to how litigation works where the judge will make decisions for you based on legal guidelines and case law. Arbitration and litigation are usually far more expensive than mediation so in effect, you end up paying more and inputting your desires less. With mediation you pay less and input more. In the end, a mediated settlement reflects more of your personal values, desires and viewpoints. So, the difference…..is YOU!!