Back to Learning Center


Specialty tag(s): Divorce Arbitration, Divorce Mediation, Divorce

Divorce Arbitration vs. Mediation: What Is the Difference Between Mediation and Arbitration?

Eric Robertson | November 8, 2023

Man working on laptop at home office.

It can sometimes feel like going to court is the only way to settle issues in a divorce, but there are other options available, such as an arbitrator or mediator. Both of these conflict resolution options offer unique benefits that make them an appealing option for those going through a divorce. However, to decide whether arbitration vs. mediation is right for your situation, it’s essential to understand the similarities between arbitration and mediation, their differences, and their benefits.

What Is Mediation?

When you need to decide on divorce mediation vs. arbitration, mediation is often the better option if you don’t expect high levels of conflict. That’s because mediation is a form of conflict resolution between two parties that incorporates a neutral third party, known as a mediator. The mediator helps both parties reach an agreement that settles their issues. However, mediation is non-binding. Though mediators are highly skilled in conflict resolution and possess a wealth of legal knowledge, they can’t make and enforce the final decision. That responsibility lies solely with the two opposing parties, who must reach an agreement voluntarily. That’s important to keep in mind when deciding on mediation or arbitration.

Benefits of Mediation

Mediation offers clients several appealing benefits. In addition to giving divorcing spouses the ability to resolve conflicts mostly on their own, it also:

  • Costs less than arbitration or litigation
  • Takes less time than going to court
  • Doesn’t restrict parties to a specific outcome

What Is Arbitration?

Arbitration is another conflict resolution method that uses a neutral third party, called an arbitrator. But what is the difference between a mediator and an arbitrator? Arbitration differs from mediation in that the arbitrator does have the power to make a final decision. This is the main difference between arbitration and mediation. However, whether or not the arbitrator’s decision is binding depends on the terms of the arbitration contract.

When comparing mediation versus arbitration, you should also note that arbitration uses a more structured process, similar to that of a court. In arbitration, both parties present their opening statements to the arbitrator and then follow with their arguments. The arbitrator then considers both sides of the case before coming to a final decision on the matter.

The process and the authority of the third party are important considerations when evaluating the use of an arbitrator vs. mediator in your case.

The Benefits of Arbitration

Arbitration is generally faster than mediation, as there is less back and forth between the opposing parties. Other benefits of arbitration include:

  • A definitive result from the arbitrator
  • A more relaxed and straightforward process than court
  • Lower costs than a court case

Which Is Better: Arbitration or Mediation?

There is no universal answer as to whether mediation or arbitration is better because it depends on the specifics of your situation. When deciding on mediation vs. arbitration in a divorce, it often comes down to how quickly you want things resolved and whether you think you can work together with your spouse to settle all of the details. Arbitration is generally the better option for parties who don’t believe they can work together, since it puts the final decision in the hands of the arbitrator. However, when two parties can work together to reach an agreement, mediation is often the preferred choice.

If you have trouble choosing a mediator vs. an arbitrator, consider contacting a divorce attorney at Goranson Bain Ausley for help. Our skilled lawyers will lend an empathetic ear to your situation and provide you with well-informed advice as to the best course of action for your future.

Popular Family Law Articles

Divorce Impact on ChildrenAre Audio Recordings Admissible in Family Court TexasCustodial Parent Texas
What Kind of Drug Test Do Courts UseDoes Child Support End at 18 in TexasIs Texas a 50/50 State in Divorce
How to Pick a Good Divorce AttorneyCan You Get Spousal Support in TexasDivorce Texas Cost
Child Support Cap in TexasBible on DivorcePost Marital Agreement
Co Parenting Through DivorceHow Do You Prove Alcoholism in a DivorceNarcissist and Divorce

Services to Help Solve Your Challenges

Our attorneys are experienced in all aspects of family law and will guide you through each step of the process, ensuring you have the information you need to make wise decisions and prepare for the future.

Get in Touch

At Goranson Bain Ausley, we strive to deliver clarity about what comes next and confidence that you and your family’s future are more secure. Contact our team and discover how we can help you.

“My purpose is to help people adapt to the uncertainty and discomfort of going through family law issues and teach divorce survival skills.”

Request A Consultation


three people in a business meeting

Eric Robertson

What Is Arbitration in a Divorce?

If you’ve ever considered alternative dispute resolution options to settle a dispute, you may have heard of arbitration. But, what does arbitration entail?


woman looking out window

Ally Caskey

Basic Steps in the Divorce Process

The divorce process can be a confusing and overwhelming affair. Understand how divorce works and what you can expect with this helpful step-by-step guide.

Related Resources