Co Med Arb
While mediation is appropriate for many families, situations sometimes arise where the parties have agreed upon many of the issues but still disagree on one or more matters. In these situations, variations of mediation may be appropriate. For additional options, please see our mediation variations page.
What is Co Med-Arb?
Co Med-Arb is a variation of mediation that combines elements of arbitration and can be appropriate for those who want to negotiate a quick settlement but feel that they may not be able to reach a complete resolution through mediation.
The day starts with mediation. The parties and their counsel submit letter briefs or pleadings to the “neutrals,” a mediator and arbitrator and, if appropriate, the parties or their counsel can make opening statements. With the mediator’s assistance, the parties then begin trying to resolve as many of their issues as possible, as they would in any other mediation. After the parties have resolved as many issues in mediation as possible, the arbitrator will step into the process and address only issues that were not settled during the mediation phase. When appropriate, parties or counsel will be able to make closing statements. The arbitrator will then render a decision that includes the agreed-upon mediation issues and the award on the issues submitted to arbitration.
This process may also be reversed with the parties starting with arbitrator. The arbitrator reaches a decision but does not give it to the parties. Next, the parties try to mediate their dispute. If they cannot, then the arbitrator’s decision is disclosed, and becomes a court order.
The length and expense of each session depends on the complexity of the matter and the rules adopted for the arbitration phase. Some matters can be completely resolved in one business day. The cost of the process is based upon the mediator and arbitrator’s rates, plus a onetime administration fee of $200 used to set up the process and provide information. More complex matters can take more than one day.
Advantages of Co Med-Arb
The Co Med-Arb process provides flexibility, privacy, control and peace of mind that are unavailable in divorce litigation or traditional arbitration. While having two individual neutrals available will be more expensive than having just one, the efficiency makes it worthwhile. Co Med-Arb also avoids the ethical issues raised when a mediator has been provided confidential information during the mediation process and is then asked to take on the role of a decision-maker. The knowledge that an arbitrator has the ultimate power to decide puts pressure on the participants to make a good faith attempt at mediation. The arbitrator does not participate in the mediation.
Seek an Experienced Co Med-Arb Mediator and an Experienced Co Med-Arb Arbitrator
For the mediation role, you want someone you can trust to guide you through the negotiations. For the arbitrator role, you need a person who can objectively weigh the interests of both parties, and make a final determination that is just. Mediator and attorney Brian McDonald has extensive mediation experience and training, is trusted and respected by family law attorneys, and has been a Certified Family Law Specialist for more than 30 years. Brian teams with arbitrators who are Certified Family Law Specialists or who sit as Judge Pro Tems in Bay Area courts or retired judges. If you believe Med-Arb or Arb-Med may be a viable option to help resolve your dispute, contact McDonald & Mannion today.