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Are mediation and arbitration the same?

When it comes to divorces and other legal disputes in Ohio, you may have heard mediation and arbitration discussed as possible solutions. However, while some people may think the two concepts are one and the same, the fact is that mediation and arbitration each involve a different method to resolve a dispute between parties.

According to the Huffington Post, arbitration is not unlike a court proceeding. Basically, two or more contesting parties will submit to a neutral third party to act as the judge and jury for their dispute. This neutral party can consist of one or more individuals. An arbitration functions like a court trial but the procedures and rules are simpler, plus it takes place outside the court system. Should the parties agree to a binding arbitration, the decision of the arbiters can be enforced in a court of law if one or more of the parties refuses to comply with it.

By contrast, mediation is more informal. Like arbitration, it involves a neutral third party. However, instead of imposing a decision on the parties after a proceeding, a mediator instead helps guide all parties toward a mutually agreed upon solution. Mediation settlements are basically agreements signed by all parties, like any standard contract. As such, a mediation settlement does not have the same legal binding power that a finding by an arbiter does.

The main difference between arbitration and mediation is that mediators do not have power to hand down solutions on the contesting parties. If you agree to have your dispute heard in an arbitration proceeding, be aware that decisions handed down by arbitration are legally enforceable.  

The purpose of this article is to help educate on the topic of arbitration and mediation, and should not be taken as legal advice.

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