By Tonya Graser Smith
As a family law attorney, when I schedule court dates for clients, I try to stay away, if possible, from taking a client to court on Valentine’s Day. Or for that matter, stay away from taking them to court on their birthday, their former wedding anniversary, you get the idea. Going to court is not a fun experience for divorcees, no matter what day, let alone on the anniversary date that is not celebrated anymore.
Usually I can prevent my clients enduring long stressful court dates against their Ex on Valentines day or another day that should be celebrated with something fun, not something stressful, but it is not a guarantee. And let’s be honest, I do not want to be in court on Valentine’s Day either! However, if the Judge says to come to court on Valentine’s Day, my client and I are there.
So what’s the connection to Arbitration and Valentine’s Day?
First, let me explain – what in the world is Arbitration?
Most folks have heard about using mediation to work through matters like child custody, alimony, and splitting up assets at divorce. Mediation is where all parties and their lawyers get together with a neutral mediator (someone not taking a side), go back and forth all day, hash it out, and hopefully come to an agreement, right?!? But what happens when you and your Ex can’t agree in mediation and you need someone to make those decisions? Ta Da, presenting – Arbitration.
Arbitration is using a specialized and experienced private judge to make decisions on your matters. Historically, arbitration came about to resolve big business lawsuits in quicker and private way so businesses could keep moving forward without getting stuck in court forever.
Arbitration has become popular in domestic cases in recent years since Covid, due to court backlogs, complicated subject matter, saving money, and reasons of privacy. With arbitration, you set the terms for who, how, and when. You have input on who will be the arbitrator, you have impact on how information will be collected to evaluate the case, you have influence on when you will have the arbitration.
Recently, and thankfully, North Carolina has allowed the use of this arbitration to resolve divorce-related domestic issues. We have laws in place that guide Arbitration in family law matters. Link to NC Family Law Arbitration Act.
So back to the question: what’s the connection to Arbitration and Valentine’s Day?
Arbitration will keep you out of court on Valentine’s Day. And that is a win in my book.