How much does family law arbitration cost and who pays for it?
The cost of family law arbitration can vary depending on several factors, including the complexity of the dispute and the qualifications of the arbitrator.
Family law arbitrators usually charge an hourly rate, fluctuating from around $300 to $1,000 per hour, depending on their level of experience.
An upfront lump sum payment, known as a retainer, is typically required and ranges from $2,000 to $20,000 or more depending on the complexity of the issues and process. The arbitrator holds that retainer in trust and draws upon it to cover their invoices when they are rendered.
Typically, the cost of arbitration is split between the parties. This means each party pays for their own legal representation and shares the cost of the arbitrator. However, there are alternative arrangements that can be agreed upon. These include options where one party agrees to pay all the costs upfront, with the understanding that the other party will reimburse their share from the settlement funds after a final decision on property matters has been made.
Though this may seem pricey, arbitration is quite often much cheaper than a court trial. This is largely due to the streamlined process in arbitration and fewer delays.
It is also important to note that some parties may be eligible for free or low-cost arbitration services, depending on their income and location. Many non-profit organizations and legal aid clinics provide free or low-cost arbitration services to low-income individuals.