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Judges can divide marital property by arbitration

On Behalf of | Feb 22, 2022 | Property Division

Few states use the community property law implemented by California when divorces are settled. The equitable distribution process works much differently. But along with community property allocation, California judges also have the power to send a divorce case into arbitration following the typical mediation process. Mediation can be a much more amiable negotiation procedure that allows each party to present their positions in an informal private setting intended to reach a mutual agreement. But even with this option, some divorces are so contentious that arbitration is still necessary.

Understanding arbitration

Arbitration is a resolution option that can firmly settle any legal dispute. It can be used in divorce just as with any other dispute, and many times arbitration is needed when divorcing couples cannot agree on the value of their marital assets. Effective and fair marital property division in California requires accurate inventories so marital property ownership can be assigned. Arbitration allows both sides to present their arguments without the step of cross-examination by each party. The arbitrator makes the final decisions on allocation based on California law and independent valuation of contested property.

Problems with arbitration

Mediation is assuredly the most efficient and protective method of settling a property dispute in a divorce. Arbitration is a public hearing procedure just like formal lawsuit litigation. All records of the process are available for public viewing. Additionally, unlike a lawsuit, there is no option of appeal. All orders issued by California judicial arbitrators are final with the only presentation being the submission of written documents to the court regarding marital property.

All divorcing couples in California should understand this court authority when going through a divorce mediation. Mediation does not always produce an agreement, but the alternative can also produce other unwanted results in addition to a potential public record disclosure issue.