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The Seven Options for Divorce: Number Four

The fourth option for divorce is Arbitration, which is quite different from our first three options.  The Kitchen Table Divorce is casual, creative, quick and inexpensive.  Mediation is a cooperative effort between individuals to reach a mutual agreement based on consensus and compromise.  Collaborative Divorce provides you with a team of professionals that rally and support you, ensuring that all your needs are met.  Though Arbitration is similar to mediation, it is more like litigation in that the parties present their respective positions, evidence, testimony and witnesses to a trial of fact.

Arbitration is a settlement technique in which a third party reviews the case and imposes a decision that is legally binding for both sides.  The arbitrator may be a retired judge, an experienced trial lawyer, or some other professional selected from a panel of competent arbitrators, such as the American Arbitration Association.  Arbitration can be either voluntary or mandatory and can be either binding or non-binding.  The principal distinction between mediation and arbitration is that whereas a mediator will try to help the parties find a middle ground on which to compromise, the (non-binding) arbitrator remains totally removed from the settlement process and will only give a determination of liability.

Arbitration is most commonly used for the resolution of commercial disputes, but it is desirable in divorce cases when agreement cannot be reached but the parties still wish to save the costs and expenses of litigating through the usual judicial system, which has built-in delays and attendant increased costs.  The Los Angeles County Superior Court sponsors an arbitration program and a “Rent-A-Judge program wherein retired Superior Court judges are available as arbitrators, or will sit as judges on a private basis.  But we’ll talk more about Rent-A-Judge in a later post.

Option 1:  The Kitchen Table
Option 2:  Mediation
Option 3:  Collaborative Divorce
Option 4:  Arbitration
Option 5:  Negotiation in the Shadow of Litigation
Option 6:  Rent-A-Judge
Option 7: Litigation

Helping Families – Sat., April 10

The State Bar Family Law Section CDR/ADR Standing Committee (South)
Dispute Resolution Services, Inc.,
Los Angeles County Bar Association and LACBA Family Law Section
invite you to attend our Spring Symposium

HELPING FAMILIES: New Directions in Consensual Dispute Resolution
Cutting edge, theories, techniques, tactics and tools.

Saturday, April 10, 2010, 8:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Pepperdine University School of Law

If you practice mediation or collaborative law, are a mental health professional, coach, financial specialist, or family law attorney with an interest in expanding your knowledge of the latest issues in consensual dispute resolution and in developing your skills to best serve the needs of families, this program is for you.

Presenters will include Judges Marjorie Steinberg and Mark Juhas, renowned child custody mediator and child psychologist, Dr. Donald Saposnek, notable appellate attorney Leslie Ellen Shear, attorney-CDR professionals Fern Topas Salka, Wendy R. Landes, Judith C. Nesburn, Heidi Tuffias, Kathleen Dillon, and Ronald Supancic, collaborative attorneys Joe Spirito, Kim Davidson, and Donna Beck Weaver, financial expert Stephanie Maloney, career counselor Daisy Swan, coaches David Kuroda and Brook Olsen, Ph.D., Andrea Bush, M.F. C.C., Judith Mcleese, and a panel of adult children of divorce.

Pointers will cover how we as attorneys and other divorce support professionals can:

* Ethically and responsibly include the voices of children in the mediation process

* Facilitate the settlement processes between the sessions

* Make the internal shift from litigator to consensual dispute resolution professional

* Help give divorcing families the necessary tools to assist them in establishing their post-separation lives

The price for this program is $125.00. Student prices are available. A continental breakfast as well as light snacks will be provided throughout the event.

To sign up, contact Thee Los Angeles County Bar Member Services at 213/896-6560 and mention the LACBA program number 10832.

For more information about this program, go to or contact co-chair of the State Bar Family Law Section on CDR/ADR Standing Committee (South), Fern Topas Salka at

CLE and BBS credits will be given for attendance.