Before 2021, Connecticut law prohibited the arbitration of child custody and visitation or child support issues. As a result, arbitration was generally only available to parties to a divorce or other family relations matter to resolve financial issues such as alimony, spousal support, and maintenance, and property distribution. However, following the passage of Public Act No. 21-104 §§ 21 and 53, and revisions to Connecticut General Statutes §§ 46b-66 52-408, effective October 1, 2021, parties to a divorce or other family relations matter will be able to utilize arbitration to resolve child-related issues.
Arbitration is a form of dispute resolution available to parties to a civil action, including parties to a divorce or custody matter. The parties can, by mutual agreement, choose one or more neutral third persons to make a final and binding decision resolving their disputes. Those neutral third persons, often retired judges or experienced family law attorneys, act as judges overseeing a private trial in which the parties can elicit testimony, submit evidence, and present legal arguments in the privacy of a conference room or professional office space rather than an open courthouse and public court file accessible to by the media or any other interested person. Arbitrating sensitive issues pertaining to minor children will provide the parties with greater privacy than would the judicial system.
Unless otherwise agreed to by the parties, the arbitrator must issue his or her written decision within thirty days of the date the arbitration concluded. An arbitration award is not enforceable until it has been confirmed, modified, or vacated in accordance with the provisions of General Statutes § 52-417 and incorporated into a judgment dissolving the parties’ marriage or other order of the court. Once incorporated, that arbitration award is enforceable and modifiable to the same extent as a Separation Agreement or Court Order. One of the benefits of arbitration is finality. Motions to vacate, modify, or correct an arbitration award must be brought within thirty days of the date of notice of the award in accordance with General Statutes § 52-420.
At Broder Orland Murray & DeMattie LLC, we have extensive experience in all aspects of divorce-related arbitrations. Call one of our experienced attorneys to discuss whether arbitration is right for you and your case.