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If you are exploring a way to end your marriage other than going before a judge in Massachusetts, you may have heard about arbitration. Some people think it is the same as mediation, but in reality these two resolution methods are very different. Arbitration is a way you can resolve your divorce in a manner that resembles a court proceeding but is less formal in nature.

As FindLaw explains, mediation is a more common method of resolving divorce outside of a court. In mediation, the two spouses take their disagreements to a mediator who will help them reach a mutually accepted decision. Mediation is less adversarial than a courtroom setting and helps foster productive decision making. Unlike a court proceeding, there is no judge or third party to hand down decisions.

Arbitration, on the other hand, is actually rarely used in divorce cases. Typically, arbitration is utilized more often in the business world or in public sector disputes. Nevertheless, arbitration offers some benefits to divorcing couples. Some spouses admit that they need a more structured setting to resolve their disagreements, which arbitration can provide.

In arbitration, the divorcing couple takes their disagreements before a neutral third party, who will hear the evidence and arguments presented. The arbitrator, like a judge, will then render a decision. However, not all arbitrations result in binding decisions. Also, some arbitrations may be used to resolve just some disputes, with the remainder to be handled through negotiation or a court proceeding. Additionally, an arbitration resolution, like most forms of alternative resolution, will have to be approved by a court.

Whether divorce arbitration can help you with your divorce is ultimately up to the needs of you and your spouse. Since Massachusetts divorces are influenced by many different factors, do not consider this article as legal advice. Read it for your educational benefit.