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Arbitration

Resolving Connecticut Family Law Disputes Through Arbitration

Alternative process speeds decisions on contentious issues

The majority of individuals want to avoid trial if at all possible, and this is particularly true in divorce and other family law matters. Concerns for privacy and for protection of children’s interests can make the courtroom an unsuitable forum. Yet cooperative processes like mediation may not be effective where parties are far apart on important issues and unable to come to an agreement on all the issues. If your case requires a definitive, binding decision, arbitration may be your best option. At Needle | Cuda, our family law attorneys are experienced in using this method. We know how to present evidence and arguments designed to achieve positive outcomes with a minimum of conflict. Our family law attorneys work closely with you throughout the arbitration process, providing steady counsel that affords you confidence and peace of mind.

How family law arbitration works

Arbitration is a method of dispute resolution used in a variety of civil law disputes. Unlike mediation, where a neutral third party helps parties reach compromises, arbitration resembles a private trial. Parties and their attorneys submit evidence and make arguments to an arbitrator, who acts as judge. Arbitrators are often judges who have retired from the bench, or may be other experienced lawyers. Choosing the right arbitrator can be very important to the process. Arbitration can occur only if both parties agree to the process; it cannot otherwise be required by the court. The process takes place at an agreed-upon location, generally a conference room. At the close of the proceedings, the arbitrator rules on each issue presented for resolution. One of the benefits of arbitration is that it is usually more final than a decision in court, as there are greater limits on the ability to appeal an arbitrator’s decision. It is also a way to have a more confidential trial, without the issues playing out in open court.

Parties to divorce can use arbitration to decide a number of contentious issues, such as:

  • Alimony — either spouse’s entitlement to financial support during and after divorce or separation
  • Discovery — what documents and information each side is entitled to receive
  • Property division — how much of the marital estate each spouse receives after dissolution of a marriage
  • Business equity — what share each spouse may claim in a closely held business
  • Business valuation — how much a business is worth, which is relevant to how the asset is divided
  • Property valuation — how much real estate, fine art, automobiles, boats, jewelry and other high-priced assets of the spouses are worth
  • Intellectual property rights — whether a spouse’s contributions confer an interest in copyright, trademark or trade secret ownership
  • Retirement savings rights — the percentage of 401(k), pension or other retirement assets that each spouse will receive

As the law now stands, child custody and child support cannot be arbitrated. However, it may be possible to arbitrate cases involving those issues, if they are separately agreed or carved out in the right way.

Since most arbitration issues are financial, the parties must pledge full transparency. There should be an appropriate discovery process leading up to the arbitration. Each party should present their financial records, including tax returns, bank statements, credit card statements, loan records, deeds and other documentation as evidence. Parties are also allowed to call witnesses, including expert witnesses on asset valuation and other economic measures.

Contact our Westport, CT family law attorneys for arbitration services

If you are interested in seeking arbitration of a family law dispute in Fairfield County, Needle | Cuda is ready to help. We provide arbitration representation focused on delivering positive results. To reserve a consultation, call us today at 203-429-4151 or contact our Westport office online.

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