Agreeing on a divorce or any type of legal settlement can be emotionally and financially draining. The traditional path of courtroom litigation may work for some, but it’s not necessarily the best option for everyone. Each situation is unique, and more people are looking toward different methods of Alternative Dispute Resolution.
What Is Alternative Dispute Resolution?
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is a term that encompasses a variety of methods of settling a dispute outside of the courtroom. The main objective of the ADR process is for the parties to find common ground which will in turn lead to an agreement. ADR is a non-judicial avenue for resolution which may be required by terms of a contract, an order of the Court or other authoritative body or the direct agreement of the parties. The two most common types of ADR are mediation/conciliation and arbitration.
Mediation is designed to create a neutral environment in which the disputing parties may voice opinions and concerns which will in turn end in a balanced resolution. In mediation/conciliation, an independent third party called a mediator or conciliator is enlisted to help the parties reach a settlement. The mediator/conciliator must remain neutral and, unlike a judge, does not have the power to make decisions. The neutral’s role is to guide the contesting parties to an agreed upon resolution. Any party is entitled to have a lawyer read over the agreement and offer advice before signing it.
Benefits of Mediation:
- Lower costs;
- Avoids a lengthy court case;
- Parties have greater control;
- Balanced agreement.
Arbitration is similar to a “mini-trial”. In an arbitration proceeding, the parties normally have their own attorneys. A neutral third-party, called an arbitrator, is chosen and agreed upon by the parties’ lawyers. Each party presents evidence to the arbitrator in support of his/her position. At the close of the hearing the arbitrator renders a written decision.
If the arbitration is “binding”, the decision of the arbitrator is final and must be accepted by the parties. If the arbitration was “non-binding”, the decision is merely advisory and may or may not be accepted as a final resolution of the dispute. Whether arbitration is binding, or non-binding is determined either by the terms of an order, contract/agreement or by the parties themselves.
Benefits of Arbitration:
- Ability to choose the decision maker;
- Less costly than a formal judicial process;
- Can be binding or non-binding.
Speak to an Experienced Divorce Lawyer at Carter DeYoung
Alternative dispute resolution options are intended to reduce costs, lengthy court dates, and general stress. Regardless of the method chosen, it is important to hire an experienced, trusted attorney to guide you through the process and help decide if ADR will be beneficial in your circumstance.
At Carter DeYoung, we have trained legal experts who can assist you in finding a solution to any controversy and help to reduce the adversarial nature of court proceedings. Contact us to schedule an initial Free Consultation today at 508-771-4210.