Divorce Express

The Arbitrator


What Is Arbitration?

An Arbitrator is a "private Judge".  You can agree to arbitrate your diffences instead of going through the normal court process. It is normally quicker and more private. A mediator helps you make a decision. An arbitrator makes the decision.

Arbitration Can Be Binding or Non-Binding

In arbitration, the parties agree to be bound by the arbitrator's decision. It is possible to use an arbitrator to make a "non-binding" decision---sort of like an expert consulting opinion, to help you negotiate your own agreement.

You Pick Your Arbitrator

If mediation does not result in an agreement, arbitration will follow. You will be asked to select an arbitrator. Our Network includes arbitrators with significant experience in family law matters. They include retired judges or lawyers with at least 15 years of experience in family law matters. We will provide you with detailed biographical information to assist you in the selection.The Network Arbitrators are well qualified, but you are not obligated to select from our Network.   If the two of you cannot agree, you can authorize our Coordinator to make the selection.

How Does Arbitration Work?

Private Hearing

Typically a private trial or hearing will be held. Evidence may be presented, testimony may be given and advocates for the respective positions of the parties may argue on their behalf. The standard rules of evidence may be applied.  Arbitration takes place outside of a Courthouse and in a private setting. You will meet with your arbitrator before the arbitration to decide exactly how it should work and what rules should apply. Our Coordinator will assist you in scheduling the meeting.

Must You Have A Lawyer To Arbitrate? 

No.  Both parties typically use their own lawyer during arbitration. However, that is not mandatory. Either or both of you can represent yourselves.  This is a unique opportunity for many within the Divorce Express process. It is not free. The arbitrators must be paid, but you can be heard without the usual trappings and costs incident to being heard within the legal system.


The arbitrator charges an hourly rate, and their rates are listed in the information provided for each on the Website.  The arbitrator is a private individual serving in the capacity of a Judge. The arbitrator will bill by the hour, or in some identifiable fashion, for the services which are performed. However, anyone who has sat through a litigated case knows how much time is devoted to waiting, to postponements, to unexpected delays and to the demands otherwise placed on a Court’s time. Combine that experience with the clumsy procedures available to force disclosure of information when disclosure is resisted, is done unwillingly or is done deceitfully, and you will soon understand that the cost of the arbitrator is money well spent to save these additional expenditures.

Advantage: Speed and Time

The process of litigating through the Court system is slower than many can tolerate. The time between beginning and end in arbitration is more the subject of your own control. You and your spouse, or your chosen agents or representatives, can pick your own arbitrator (It can be anyone you agree upon). You can ask about the arbitrator’s availability and schedule in advance of making the selection. Remember, although arbitration may bring the matters in dispute to resolution more quickly, the actual divorce must still be granted by a Court—an arbitrator cannot do so-- and the standard Maryland rules pertaining to grounds for divorce will apply.

Advantage: Privacy

In an arbitrated proceeding, the transcript of the testimony is not automatically made public. The files in an arbitrated proceeding can be protected from public disclosure and can effectively be “sealed” i.e. closed to the prying or inquiring eyes of public view. In litigated proceedings, Courts are not free to do. In addition, arbitrated cases take place in a private office or other controlled setting. Ingress and egress can be restricted by mutual agreement. Thus, they can be made far less exposed to public view.

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