Arbitration is a dispute resolution process authorized by the Missouri Supreme Court. It is similar to what happens in a court hearing, but with less formality and greater opportunity for the parties to directly participate. The rules of procedure and evidence are relaxed.

  • Participants help identify the issues to be decided.
  • Participants have liberal opportunity to have their say.
  • The arbitrator makes a decision after hearing from all participants.
  • Rulings will conform to the law and previous court orders.

At the conclusion of the "hearing," the arbitrator makes a ruling called the "award." Awards in cases involving minor children are often "advisory." This gives the participants an idea of what a judge would do if presented with the information and asked to resolve the dispute. A judge has the authority to approve the award, to make an independent decision (called "de novo" review). An award involving a minor child will only be approved if the judge finds it is in the best interest of a minor child.

For more information about arbitration services, contact the Office of Dispute Resolution Services at (816) 736-8400 or