However, there was a dark cloud on the horizon. Teddy’s parents had been following a week-on week-off parenting plan with exchanges on the weekend, but Teddy was fast approaching school age, and their homes were just too far apart to make school work from both homes. June and Ward agreed that school needed to be close to one of their homes, and the other family could have three day-weekends and some extra time in the summer to keep things close to a 50:50 arrangement.
There was complete agreement, each parent offered the mirror image of the other’s proposal, but would not budge on wanting to be the primary parent for school purposes. They had done their divorce amicably, without counsel, and they had forgotten to check the primary residential parent box on their parenting plan form. There was no ready legal answer in their divorce paperwork. They were 50:50 joint decisionakers.
There was nothing but cornfields in between their homes, and both parents had to get to work in the mornings. The happy façade was beginning to crack, “if someone could just decide this one issue for us we could figure the rest out for ourselves.” This is tearing us apart they said – what can be done?
Most of what I do is mediation, but some times getting a partial decision made has the domino effect of allowing everything else to fall into place with little conflict. This is when an arbitrated decision can actually help.
Sometimes the reverse is true: millions of dollars have been divided amicably, lavish homes and businesses have been sold or transferred, parenting plans agreed upon, but there are just those few unexpected items that stand in the way of a complete separation agreement. Everyone wants to avoid an expensive trip to court.
It can be the family pet, a few items of household goods, or a piece of jewelry, but a decision needs to be made. These are all situations where everyone just wants it done already!
If mediation has foundered, and everyone wants a get out of jail option to avoid the courthouse, I offer arbitration services. Indeed, I offer a very specific form of arbitration when the need for a quick and efficient decision presents itself.
My experience has been that these situations arise when there is little desire for much additional discovery or legal work. People want to be heard, and they want to present their evidence, whether it is school rankings, a property valuation, or who loves the dog the most.
For these situations I offer an arbitration hearing modeled on long established court rules designed for non-attorneys, although counsel are always welcome in my arbitrations. Indeed, where both sides are represented full court-like formality can be restored. However, binding arbitration has to be agreed to, even if the parties agree on nothing else, so I like to keep it simple and easy to understand. I have recently put my Arbitration Agreement online.