By Chris Kramer
Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) has become very popular in recent years as the delay and expense associated with court has encouraged lawyers and litigants to seek alternatives in divorce. In alternative dispute resolution, parties typically engage the services of a neutral third party to help them resolve their divorce without going to trial.
There can be a number of advantages to alternative dispute resolution. It typically costs less than litigation and most cases can be resolved reasonably quickly. Alternative dispute resolution is usually far less hostile and adversarial than litigation, eliminating the stress and hardship on the parties involved. Furthermore, alternative dispute resolution is typically private: Your divorce is not a matter of public record nor accessible to the prying eyes of strangers. As a result of these many benefits, alternative dispute resolution may be worth considering if you have a decent level of trust with your spouse.
Divorce mediation is probably the most popular alternative dispute resolution technique used in divorce law. During divorce mediation, you and your spouse work together to reach a divorce settlement with the assistance of a neutral third party called a mediator. A mediator doesn't issue a binding judgment but facilitates a fair divorce settlement.
The divorce mediator will typically give each side an evaluation of the case early in the divorce process, giving a realistic appraisal of each side's chance of winning or losing in divorce court. If the parties can't reach a divorce settlement, the divorce will go back to court, but everything said and done during the divorce mediation proceedings is kept confidential and is inadmissible at trial.
You may want to have a divorce lawyer representing you at your divorce mediation. Although the process is not binding, it's similar to a court case, with each side presenting arguments and evidence. A divorce lawyer may convince the mediator of the strength of your case. A divorce attorney representing you in mediation may also help you maximize your recovery and your protection.
Divorce arbitration is a process where the parties agree on a neutral third party, an arbitrator, instead of a judge to make a decision on the divorce. Arbitration is typically handled on an expedited basis, with less discovery and other court procedures than standard litigation. Arbitration awards are typically final and very difficult to appeal; although there are a few, limited grounds for challenging an arbitration award.
The parties need a sufficient level of trust to agree upon an arbitrator and to limit the amount of discovery available. In most cases, if the parties aren't cooperative enough to conduct a mediation, a full-blown trial would probably be preferred to an abbreviated arbitration hearing. Some states may limit the reach of arbitration awards, as the courts have the right to have the final say in important decisions like child support, custody and visitation.
In collaborative divorce, the parties work with divorce attorneys to resolve all divorce related issues—property division, alimony, child support, custody, and visitation—in a cooperative atmosphere. Typically, a collaborative divorce begins by entering into a written contract to agree to fully disclose all relevant facts and to use good faith and best efforts to resolve the dispute without court intervention.
Divorce lawyers participate in the collaborative process as representatives, but the lawyers also act to support and encourage an agreeable solution for all parties and families involved. Other experts may be hired to assist with accounting matters, asset valuation or other technical issues that might arise during discussion of spousal support obligations and property division.
Speak with a local divorce lawyer to find out how alternative dispute resolutions would work during your divorce. Learn more about divorce mediation, divorce arbitration and collaborative divorce and which divorce options may be best for you. Call 877-349-1311 or fill out a divorce case review form to connect with a divorce attorney today.