For couples that want to spare unnecessary heartache and expense in their divorce, it just makes sense to attempt to reach agreement on as many issues as possible outside of the courtroom. Our law firm has helped many couples approach divorce amicably in furtherance of those goals. For example, we offer several alternative dispute resolution options.
As its name suggests, ADR is an alternative to litigation. ADR can be a good choice for couples that want to minimize litigation costs, yet have the reassurance of their own attorney by their side. A court may even encourage couples to explore ADR options early in their divorce.
One ADR option is mediation, where the parties and their attorneys meet with a neutral mediator. The mediator works with the parties together and separately, helping them identify commonalities and suggesting ways to bridge differences. Notably, the mediator does not function as a judge. He or she can only make suggestions. Consequently, if the mediation process is unsuccessful, the parties still have the option of resuming litigation.
The ADR option of arbitration, in contrast, is binding. That means that the parties agree in advance to accept the decision of the arbitrator, who acts like a judge. Like mediation, the parties may have legal representation throughout the process.
Choosing the right ADR option requires an honest self-appraisal. In fact, a recent article profiled a divorce mediator who observed that some couples weren’t ready to accept the mutual responsibility of mediation. Sometimes one party may not be willing to compromise or negotiate, or perhaps one party isn’t really ready for the divorce. Our attorneys have the experience to offer candid advice about whether divorce litigation or ADR options might be a good fit.
Source: Washington Post, “A divorce mediator answers: Can divorced parents just act like parents?” Robert E. Emery, Sept. 8, 2016