Arbitration is an method of resolving a dispute where parties hire a trained arbitrator to act as a judge to make binding decisions about issues in their case. The arbitration process is an effective way to resolve a dispute as it grants the parties flexibility in scheduling hearings and can be more economical than going through a public trial.
All members of our family law practice participate in the arbitration process. John Parker is certified by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers as arbitrators. John completed the American Bar Association training program at the Divorce Arbitration Institute in Chicago. Kimberly Bryan is also an arbitrator and received her training through the North Carolina Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. Jenny Bradley serves as an arbitrator as well as a court-appointed referee.
Q. How does arbitration work?
A. During arbitration, an arbitrator oversees a hearing between the involved parties. During this hearing, each side has the opportunity to present his/her case and may provide witnesses and documentary evidence. After the hearing, the arbitrator will make a decision in the case and render an award. The North Carolina Family Law Arbitration Act governs the arbitration process in all issues related to marital separation or divorce.
Q. Do I need an attorney for arbitration?
A. You are not required to have an attorney during arbitration. However, if desired, you may be represented by counsel.
Q. How long does arbitration take?
A. You may stipulate in your arbitration agreement that a decision must be made within a specified period of time, such as 90 days. North Carolina General Statute 50-51 states an award must be made within the time set in the arbitration agreement; if no timeframe was set in the agreement, the court will order an award time when the arbitration application is filed. Typically, the arbitration process takes less time than a trial in front of a judge and can be less formal. In arbitration, several matters can be heard at one time rather than the traditional court method of hearing many issues in the case at separate trials and/or hearings.
Q. Can the decision made by an arbitrator be disputed or overruled?
A. The arbitrator’s decision is legally binding and can only be challenged under limited circumstances. In order to do so, a motion to vacate must be made within 90 days after delivery of the decision. Additionally, motions to modify or correct an award can be filed before the expiration of 90 days after delivery of a copy of the award. Appeals may be made based on failure to comply with the process as set forth in the North Carolina Family Law Arbitration Act. If you specifically contract for the right to appeal errors of law, then you may challenge the arbitration award on those grounds as well.
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