Family Law Arbitration

Is Binding Family Law Arbitration for You?

In 2005 the Indiana Legislature created the position of Family Law Arbitration. Arbitration is different than mediation. Under this law the parties can petition the court to appoint an arbitrator. The parties may agree on an arbitrator or the court will set a panel of qualified individuals. To be qualified the individual must be a senior judge, a registered family law mediator or a certified family law specialist. Mr. Mann is a registered family law mediator.

The following family law matters may be submitted to an arbitrator:

An action:
(1) for the dissolution of a marriage;
(2) to establish:
(A) child support;
(B) custody; or
(C) parenting time; or
(3) to modify:
(A) a decree;
(B) a judgment; or
(C) an order;
entered under IC 31;

You can submit a single issue to the arbitrator. As limited as modification of support, on which day the midweek parenting time occurs.

The difference between going to court and an arbitrator is you must pay the arbitrator and if you request one the court reporter. One might ask why I would want to pay the arbitrator when I get the judge for free. What if you do not know who your judge will be? In many courts you may have the elected judge, the magistrate or commissioner or even a pro tem. Judges do not like to handle family law matters. If you agree on an arbitrator you can select someone who specializes in the area involved. Also, the hearing in private and if you do not request a record, other than the arbitrator's written decision the information is not open to the public. If your matter is going to take more than an hour or two of court time, it may take months to obtain a hearing date and even then it may be second choice. If you need a day or more of court time you could wait for more than a year and your matter may be broken up with months between your hearings. You hearing is limited to 9 to 4:30. If for example, if you have a hearing for a day and need an hour or two to finish, you need not stop at 4:30 when the court generally closes, but can take the hour or two and finish the matter.

Another area that speeds things up is the arbitrator is required to make the decision in writing with findings and conclusions within 30 days unless you agree to a longer time. Once the decision is made it is filed with the court and becomes an order of the court that you may appeal just as you do a trial court decision.

If you want to use this procedure, neither of you may be represented by an attorney or both of you must be represented by an attorney. Talk this over with your lawyer. If you do not have a lawyer, you must petition the court along with the other party to appoint an arbitrator. For more information see Family Law Arbitration statute.

As with all other information contained on this website, you should not consider this legal advice and you should seek advice from a lawyer. Appointments may be arranged to discuss the matter with our lawyers but no advice will be given by email.