Arbitration in Texas Divorce and Child CustodyDOWNLOAD OUR ESSENTIAL DIVORCE GUIDE

Untying the Knots: Can You Arbitrate Your Way to a Smoother Divorce?

Leslie Barrows
 | Published: 
August 25, 2023
 | Category: 

Learn How Untying the Knots Can Lead to Smoother Lives When You Arbitrate a Smoother Texas Divorce and Child Custody Matter

Divorce in Texas can be an emotionally and legally complex process, especially when children are involved. Fortunately, in Southlake, Texas, couples have a powerful alternative to traditional courtroom battles: divorce and custody arbitration. In this article, we'll explore the benefits of arbitration in achieving a smoother divorce and resolving custody disputes while shedding light on how a family law firm can guide you through this process.

Barrows Firm Attorney Leslie Barrows frequently answers people's questions about alternative dispute resolution options, like binding arbitration, to resolve conflict. Alternatively, the traditional legal process, including hearings and trials before a judge or jury, can take significant time and resources.

Please enjoy and read our topically related article, Divorcing With Children 108: Keep Kids Out of Divorce.

What is Divorce and Custody Arbitration?

Arbitration in Texas family law refers to a method of alternative dispute resolution where a neutral third party, known as an arbitrator, assists divorcing spouses in resolving their conflicts and making decisions related to their divorce, including issues like property division, spousal support, and child custody. This process offers an alternative to traditional court litigation, providing a private and often more streamlined approach to settling disputes.

In Texas divorce and family law, arbitration involves both parties voluntarily agreeing to submit their issues to an arbitrator, who listens to both sides, considers evidence and arguments, and then renders a decision. This decision, known as an arbitration award, outlines the resolution of the matters in dispute. The arbitrator's expertise in family law matters lends credibility to the decisions made during arbitration.

Explore the benefits of arbitration and alternative dispute resolution models in this Psychology Today article, Divorce Education and Therapeutic Family Mediation To Resolve Parenting Disputes.

Binding Nature of Arbitration in Texas Family Law

In Texas, arbitration can be binding or non-binding, depending on the agreement between the parties. Binding arbitration means that the decisions made by the arbitrator are final and legally enforceable. Once an arbitration award is issued, both parties must abide by its terms, just as they would with a court judgment. This can provide a sense of finality and closure to the divorce process.

On the other hand, non-binding arbitration serves as more of a recommendation or guideline. While the arbitrator's decision can still influence the parties' negotiations, it isn't legally binding. If either party is dissatisfied with the non-binding arbitration award, they can pursue other resolution methods, such as litigation or further negotiation.

It's important to note that the binding nature of arbitration is determined by the arbitration agreement that the parties enter into at the outset. This agreement outlines whether the arbitration process will result in a binding decision that both parties must adhere to or if it will be non-binding and serve as a basis for further negotiation.

Arbitration in Texas family law involves a neutral arbitrator helping divorcing couples reach resolutions outside the traditional courtroom setting. The binding nature of arbitration depends on the agreement reached by the parties. If they opt for binding arbitration, the decisions made by the arbitrator are legally enforceable, providing a structured and efficient path to resolving divorce-related issues.

There are Many Benefits of Divorce and Custody Arbitration in Texas


Unlike court proceedings, which are typically open to the public, arbitration offers a confidential setting. Alternative dispute resolution, out of Court, helps protect sensitive family matters from becoming part of the public record. In many high-net-worth divorces, the parties have significant business and public lives and would greatly appreciate their private lives and details being a searchable matter of public record.


Couples have more control over the arbitration process compared to court litigation. They can agree on the arbitrator, the timeline, and the issues to be discussed, allowing for a more personalized and tailored approach.


Arbitration often moves faster than court proceedings, which can be particularly appealing to couples looking to finalize their divorce swiftly. Additionally, couples can schedule arbitration sessions at their convenience.


The arbitrator is usually an experienced family law professional with a deep understanding of divorce and custody matters. This expertise can lead to well-informed decisions that benefit both parties and any children involved.

Reduced Conflict

The collaborative nature of arbitration can lead to reduced conflict and acrimony compared to adversarial Court battles. Conflict management is essential when co-parenting is involved. Note that children learn how parents handle conflict, and what the kids see in divorce can model their future behavior.

Custom Solutions

Arbitration allows for creative and custom solutions that may not be possible through a court's rigid decisions. This flexibility is particularly beneficial for unique family situations.

Understanding The Role of a Family Law Firm in Divorce and Custody Arbitration

A family law firm such as the Barrows Firm in Southlake, Texas, can be pivotal in guiding couples through the arbitration process and helping the family move forward and function well. Attorney Leslie Barrows has many years of extensive experience in high-conflict divorce. Child custody matter expertise enables her to know how and when to execute the best strategy in her client's cases.

Not all cases are best suited for alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation and arbitration. Still, some are, and attorney Barrows and her team can help you along however best suits your and your family's needs. The following are several elements of the family lawyers' roles in assisting you with arbitration.

How Family Lawyers Assist with Divorce and Custody Arbitration:

Expert Guidance in Strategy and Execution

Experienced attorneys can provide valuable insights into arbitration, helping clients understand their rights, options, and potential outcomes. Knowing what you are up against and the likelihood of different outcomes is vital to assessing how to proceed in arbitration.

Case Preparation of Documents and What to Expect in Arbitration

Attorneys can assist clients in preparing their arbitration cases. This includes gathering relevant documents, evidence, and information to support their claims. Much of this process is similar to preparing for hearings and trials in traditional litigation.

Negotiation Support and Case Settlement Options

During the arbitration sessions, attorneys can effectively advocate for their clients' interests, ensuring their concerns are heard and addressed. If something is not going right and the client needs to take a direction to help their desired outcome best, those options can be weighed during the process. Also, if there are problems in the arbitration or with the panel or arbiters, that can and should be addressed.

Legal Knowledge and Advice

Family law firms have in-depth knowledge of Texas divorce and custody laws. This ensures that any agreements reached during arbitration are legally sound and enforceable. The Barrows Firm frequently answers questions about changes in Texas family law, as every Texas legislative session brings changes and updates to the Texas Family Code and other areas of law that affect family matters.

Child-Centric Approach

When children are involved, a family law firm can prioritize their best interests and work to create parenting plans that promote stability and well-being in the arbitration process. The "Best Interest" standard applies in Court, which should be the parenting plan's focus. An experienced family lawyer knows what the Court will likely decide if the parents disagree on what is best for children.

Navigating Child Custody Through Arbitration Instead of Traditional Family Litigation

One of the most challenging aspects of divorce is often child custody arrangements. Learn how arbitration can help families better use their time and resources to reach resolution in a positive atmosphere with everyone's voices being heard.

Child-Focused Discussions

Arbitration encourages parents to prioritize the needs and preferences of their children. This child-centric approach can lead to more balanced and thoughtful custody decisions.

Flexible Scheduling

Unlike court dates that may clash with work or other obligations, arbitration allows parents to schedule sessions at times that work best for them.

Co-Parenting Plans

With attorneys' guidance, an arbitrator can help parents design comprehensive co-parenting plans that cover essential aspects like visitation schedules, holidays, and communication methods.

Minimized Trauma

Resolving custody matters in a private and respectful arbitration setting can spare children the emotional trauma of courtroom confrontations.

The Barrows Firm helps families with divorce and custody arbitration in Southlake, Texas, offering couples a viable and efficient option for untangling the knots of divorce. Through confidentiality, control, and a child-centered approach, arbitration can pave the way for amicable resolutions. With the support and expertise of a reputable family law firm, you can confidently navigate the arbitration process, knowing that your best interests and those of your children are at the forefront. When achieving a smoother divorce, divorce and custody arbitration emerge as a beacon of hope amidst challenging times.

With Questions About Arbitration and Other Options in Texas Divorce and Child Custody, Contact the Barrows Firm in Southlake, Texas, at 817-481-1583