Two ways to divorce: Mediation vs Arbitration

After making the decision to divorce, the next step is determining the logistics of how it’s going to happen. There are two different ways you and you ex can negotiate the terms of your divorce: mediation or arbitration.

Read on to learn more about which is right for you.

Who you work with

Arbitration happens in front of a judge and/or jury in a courtroom. Rather than working directly with your ex and his or her lawyer to reach an agreement, the court or judge will hear each of your cases and make decisions based on Pennsylvania property division and child custody laws.

Mediation, on the contrary, uses a third-party mediator to help you and your ex work together to come to agreements about the matters of your divorce. Both of your lawyers can be present and you can select any third-party to mediate the sessions.


Using mediation is the best way to conclude your divorce proceedings quickly. These short, timed sessions each have goals that the third-party mediator helps you and your ex work toward.

Arbitration generally takes longer. Because of other cases happening in court, availability to schedule sessions may be more limited. It will also take longer to reach decisions since the judge will need to come to conclusions independently after hearing from both sides.


Mediation is oftentimes less expensive than arbitration since there are no court fees and fewer sessions.

Negotiating with your ex

Arbitration is generally a better option for ex-partners who cannot work together. If you and your ex will not be able to work with a third-party to come to decisions in a rational, civil manner, it may be easier to conduct your divorce in the courts.

However, ex-partners who can work together will generally finish their divorce proceedings faster, more easily and more affordably by choosing mediation. Negotiating with your ex also offers the advantage of choosing negotiations that are right for each of you, rather than ending up with the defaults established by property division and child custody laws.

Learn more

To learn more about either the arbitration or mediation processes and which may be right for you, consult with a skill Family Law attorney for help. A lawyer can take a look at your unique situation to advise which type of proceeding may present you with the best outcome.


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