FLAA and Arbitration

In my separation agreement, I agreed to arbitration pursuant to the FLAA.

My ex no longer agrees with what was written in the agreement.

What are the limitations to arbitration? Are there specific things you can arbitrate over or can you at will decide to file for arbitration for virtually anything.

3 years has not passed since the determination of child support, etc. nor has there been anything that would constitute a significant change, or has anyone breached the agreement.

This is not a very satisfactory answer but it depends on how the document is drafted… it also depends on the definition of dispute in the document or a reasonable definition of dispute if the doc does not define it. In general changed circumstances issues are more about modifciations of court orders unless the contract specially allows modification under some circumstances; however, conrtacts generally may not be modfiied unless both parties consent. So, the answer is it just depends on what your document says. Look at the definition of dispute, and if there is none, then it would default to what a reasonable person would define dispute to be. There has to be valid dispute for the ex to arbitrate.

In our consent order, I am to cover my share of our our child’s uncovered medical expenses (which I’m fine with). Our agreement specifically outlines what this means (ie. “Uncovered medical expenses include…”). However, my ex wants me to cover medical expenses not outlined in the agreement that were previously verbally agreed to. During our mediation I specifically asked about other medical expenses and was told I would not be responsible as they are not outlined in the agreement. My ex now wants to dispute this. What would your opinion be of this?

The document does not define what is considered a dispute, only that any disputes must be arbitrated. My understanding has always been to take the document verbatim, it’s not up to interpretation for items that are specifically outlined.

I don’t think he has a valid dispute. You are going to each pay/be responsible for whatever you outlined in the agreement. If you had a prior verbal agreement that wasn’t incorporated into the written one, then I wouldn’t worry about it. He should have made sure that was reflected in the written agreement before he signed it. I don’t think an arbitrator should intervene if this is the only issue, based upon these facts.

Thank you Crystal. My ex frequently threatens arbitration and it didn’t seem right to me that you could arbitrate over things already agreed to in the consent order. Otherwise, what would be the point of even having the consent order if you could contest it at will.

You’re welcome, and good luck!