Serving Clients Across Texas

Experienced Arbitration Attorneys

Certified Family Law Arbitrators in Texas

At O’Neil Wysocki P.C., we understand how tiring family law matters can be. Often, resolving family law disputes can be costly in more ways than one. Not only can emotions tend to run high in family court, but family law cases like divorce and asset division can take a heavy toll on the whole family, including kids.

That’s why our board-certified family law specialists are committed to helping Texas couples and families achieve a resolution as quickly as possible. When it comes to family law, our AAML-certified arbitration specialist has the specialized knowledge and unique skillset to help families resolve their disputes efficiently and effectively, all while keeping costs and conflict to a minimum.

With over 25 years of experience representing Texans in a wide range of family law disputes, you can trust our compassionate family law arbitrator to provide the customized legal solutions that you and your loved ones deserve to move on to new and exciting chapters. Our firm’s family law specialists can help determine the most appropriate route to resolve the unique legal issues you’re facing to restore your family’s peace of mind.

Preparing for a divorce in Texas? Call (972) 852-8000 to schedule a consultationwith a board-certified family law specialist.

Understanding Family Law Arbitration

Family law arbitration is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) that has become an increasingly popular path for couples and families. Family law arbitration functions as a “hybrid” process combining negotiation and a contested trial, empowering couples to resolve issues privately in the presence of an appointed third party (“arbitrator”).

The arbitrator’s role is to act as an impartial third party and make finalized, legally binding decisions for couples when they can’t reach an agreement on their own. In the right circumstances, arbitration can provide Texas families with more privacy and flexibility to resolve family matters efficiently, effectively, and peacefully.

The decision to arbitrate family issues can offer a private, streamlined, and less formal option compared to traditional court litigation (such as in a costly, litigated contested divorce or child custody battle). While there are various ways to leverage arbitration to your advantage, some primary purposes of arbitration in family law include:

  • Providing a confidential and less adversarial forum for resolving disputes;
  • Encouraging open communication and cooperation between parties;
  • Reducing the time and cost involved in resolving conflicts through court litigation; and
  • Offering a more flexible and customized approach to resolving disputes.

Differences Between Arbitration, Mediation, & Collaborative Law

Arbitration differs from other ADR methods, such as divorce mediation and collaborative law in that the arbitrator reserves the authority to make a binding decision on the matter. This is not the case in mediated divorces and collaborative law divorces, where appointed legal professionals only facilitate negotiations between the parties without making any decisions for them.

Benefits of Family Law Arbitration

Arbitration can offer families an effective means to resolve their issues by fostering a personalized, focused legal approach tailored to each family’s unique needs. Moreover, arbitration involves a less formal setting than traditional family court proceedings. This can encourage both parties to openly participate in honest and constructive communication, often resulting in satisfying and lasting resolutions.

Some key benefits of choosing family law arbitration include (but aren’t limited to):

The opportunity to appoint an arbitrator with specialized knowledge of relevant issues

Unlike traditional litigation, which generally entails “luck of the draw” factors like randomly selected courts and judges, arbitration can allow families to work with legal professionals with specific experience relevant to their case.

For example, if the dispute involves the valuation and division of a family business, the parties can select an arbitrator with sufficient experience handling that type of dispute in their legal career.

The opportunity to resolve family law disputes more efficiently

Arbitration is designed to speed up the process of divorce while providing each party the opportunity to present their case. Unfortunately, after the COVID-19 pandemic, the court system suffered significant backlogs and elected judges are still sorting out their caseload, resulting in years-long delays in some courts in Texas.

Still, one positive aspect of arbitration is its ability to provide more of a “concierge” service, where the arbitrator often has more time and resources to pinpoint key issues and achieve final resolutions faster than they would get resolved in the public court system. In arbitration, interim matters can be addressed efficiently and help couples get to their final hearing faster.

The opportunity to resolve complex issues without sacrificing privacy or dignity

For many couples, keeping their divorce or other family dispute out of the public eye is a top priority.This is often the case in the event of a high net worth divorce that may be susceptible to scammers or legal matters involving high-profile individuals, such as local politicians, athletes, or celebrities).

Because the traditional court system is a government function, court hearings are not only required to be open to the public, but are also preserved in public records that anyone can request access to. Public court systems can also put children at risk of exploitation or lasting harm to their health and emotional well-being.

Fortunately, arbitration offers many Texas families the opportunity toresolve family matters in private proceedings that are closed to the public and unavailable for public access.

Arbitration can be more informal and less intimating than traditional divorces

Going to court can be intimidating and scary. From confusing dress codes to temperamental judges to confusing courtroom layouts, there’s a variety of things that can go wrong in traditional family court litigation. Lawyers may treat the courtroom like a battlefield, which raises the hostilities between the parties.

Luckily, arbitration can offer couples a more comfortable and private setting to resolve disputes, often with fewer formalities and a more conversational, solutions-based approach. Lawyer advocacy remains an important part of arbitration, just with fewer weapons and more collaboration.

The arbitrator will conduct an initial conference to lay out the issues and get an understanding of each side’s perspective before holding the final hearing, empowering couples to prioritize dispute resolution instead of being adversaries throughout the legal process.

Learn more about family law arbitration by exploring this comprehensive guidefrom our AAML-certified arbitrator.

Initiating a Family Law Arbitration Case

To initiate an arbitration case in the Texas, involved parties must first agree to submit their dispute to arbitration, typically through a written agreement. This can be done either before a dispute arises (such as a prenuptial agreement) or after the dispute has arisen. Once both parties have agreed to arbitration, they will need to select an arbitrator, either by mutual agreement or by following a procedure outlined in their arbitration agreement.

It’s crucial to work with a qualified arbitration specialist who has sufficient experience and training in this unique area of family law. One way to accomplish this is by choosing a knowledgeable advocate who has been certified by a reputable training program. When it comes to family law arbitration, the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) has the most reputable certification program for family law in the country. Our firm is honored to have Michelle May O’Neil on our team, one of the only AAML-certified arbitrators in the state of Texas, to best serve our clients.

Choosing the Right Arbitrator in Family Law

When preparing to arbitrate a family law dispute, it’s critical to select an arbitrator with an in-depth knowledge of Texas state laws and sufficient experience arbitrating family matters similar to yours.

During the arbitration process, both parties will present their evidence and arguments to the arbitrator. This may include witness testimony, documents, and expert opinions. The arbitrator will then consider the evidence and make a decision, which is typically binding on both parties.

After the arbitration process is complete, the arbitrator will issue a written award outlining their decision. If the parties are satisfied with the outcome, they can move forward with implementing the award. If either party is unhappy with the arbitrator's decision, they may have limited options for appealing the award, depending on the terms of their arbitration agreement and applicable Texas law.

Common Cases in Family Law Arbitration

When it comes to family law, arbitration can be a useful way to resolve a variety of family disputes in Texas, including:

  1. Child custody disputes – Arbitration can empower co-parents to work together with the arbitrator to create a customized parenting plan that meets the child’s needs and prioritizes their best interests.
  2. Divorce settlements – Couples and families can use arbitration to negotiate the final terms of their divorce settlement, such as decisions pertaining to co-parenting or the division of retirement benefits.
  3. Modification of existing court orders – If circumstances change after a court order has been issued, arbitration can offer an efficient way to modify the order to best accommodate new circumstances.
  4. Property disagreements between couples – Arbitrating asset distribution and property division can help divorcing couples reach an agreement faster.
  5. Spousal support and child support – Divorce matters like spousal support (alimony) and child support payments may also be arbitrated.

When used in appropriate circumstances, arbitration can offer a valuable alternative to traditional court litigation for resolving legal disputes between families. Its private, flexible, and efficient nature can help couples and families navigate difficult situations and reach mutually agreeable resolutions.

If you think arbitration may be the right path for you, it’s imperative to consult with a certified family law arbitrator before taking legal action, as a trusted advocate can provide the sound legal counsel you require to determine the best route for you and your loved ones to take to achieve a brighter future.

Contact an AAML-Certified Arbitrator in Texas

At O’Neil Wysocki P.C., our compassionate founding attorney is not only a board-certified family law specialist, but had the honor of earning her certification in arbitration from the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), one of the most reputable training programs in the U.S. for family law arbitrators. Our firm’s board-certified family law specialist Michelle May O’Neil is one of roughly thirty AAML-certified arbitrators in the state of Texas.

If you’re considering arbitration or other ADR process for your divorce, look no further than O’Neil Wysocki. Call (972) 852-8000 today to request a consultationwith a skilled family lawyer.

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Fort Worth, TX 76102
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Houston 19 Briar Hollow Ln., Ste. 200,
Houston, TX 77027
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Family Law Representation at O’Neil Wysocki P.C

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