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When Words Aren’t Enough—How Juvenile Arbitration Can Save Families

Thursday, November, 15, 2012


When families have conflict, the result is never a pretty one—tempers flare and the generational gaps that have both connected and disconnected familial bonds can seem irreconcilable.  Your juvenile son or daughter might accuse you of being abusive, unfair, intrusive, or a host of other unflattering names, but like it or not, you know that their actions have consequences and there is always a point in childhood when consequences are a hard lesson to learn.  For some, it happens sooner than others. 


If a juvenile has been caught in the act of a crime, you’re aware that your child is facing the inevitable consequences of his or her actions, but want to handle the matter as discretely as possible and hope that the process will teach a much-needed lesson. For cases like this, juvenile arbitration might be a good option for you.


Juvenile arbitration is a form of alternative dispute resolution that encourages communication, fairness and the assistance of a non-biased, expert in reaching a resolution.  In juvenile arbitration, the juvenile, his or her parent(s) and the arresting officer will be provided the opportunity to present facts and evidence to a neutral third party of their choosing.  That third party, referred to as the arbitrator, will hear all “sides” and will then look at the specific circumstances of the case after taking into account all of the information he or she received.  After reviewing the limits and laws applicable to the case, he or she will use his or her legal expertise (usually arbitrators are retired judges or attorneys) to arrive at a fair decision regarding the outcome of the arbitrated case.  In cases of juvenile offense, that outcome might not look attractive to the juvenile but is often a relief to the parents who wished to save their son or daughter from incarceration.   


The arbitrator might decide on community service, drug rehabilitation, mandatory drug testing, etc., but the decision will be as legally binding as that of any court’s decision.  While juvenile arbitration isn’t an option for some offenses, and those offenses vary depending on the state and/or county in which a juvenile committed the offense, many minor offenses can be handled this way without ever stepping foot into a courtroom.  This means that families are better able to handle the issue without getting friends and neighbors involved, and take a moment to work through their problems together, the way families should, in alternative dispute resolution.