Practice Areas

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  • Family Law Arbitration

    Family Law Arbitration Definition

    Family law arbitration is a form of alternative dispute resolution. Parties can mutually agree to utilize a private arbiter to make binding, enforceable decisions related to outstanding disputes. In general, arbitration is governed by the Uniform Arbitration Act, C.R.S. 13-22-201 through C.R.S. 13-22-230. Colorado has a separate statute for arbitration related to child custody issues, found at C.R.S. 14-10-128.5. Arbitration cannot be forced upon the parties; it requires the parties' consent. 

    Unlike mediation, the process of arbitration puts the ultimate resolution of a dispute in the control of a neutral third party. The structure of arbitration may vary depending on the arbiter. Generally, arbitration is more relaxed and flexible than a hearing or trial before the court. Typically, the arbiter conducts a proceeding with the presentation of evidence, witnesses, and arguments. The arbiter is then charged with issuing a written ruling. In some instances, if the parties and arbiter agree it is appropriate, an issue can be resolved without an actual hearing, and simply through submission of written argument and evidence to the arbiter.

    Private arbiters can provide parties to family law disputes prompt resolution, which is a major benefit with the crowded family law dockets in Colorado courts. Overall, arbiters are more readily available than judicial officers for telephone conferences during the course of a case. Other benefits to private arbitration include: more personalized case management, deadlines tailored to the specific needs of the case/issue, a more confidential environment than a public courthouse, and a modified implementation of rules to allow for the efficient presentation of information. While arbiters are privately paid, many parties find the procedure of arbitration to be cost-effective, as opposed to the lengthy and formal process of judicial proceedings. 

    After an arbiter issues an arbitration award, either party can ask the arbiter to modify or clarify the award, or object to the award. C.R.S. 13-22-220. A party may also ask the court to vacate an arbitration award if that party believes the award is improper.  C.R.S. 13-22-223-224. Similarly, either party may ask the Court to affirm an arbitration award. C.R.S. 13-22-222. Arbitration has specific procedural deadlines for post-arbitration awards, so it is important to refer to the appropriate statute.

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