ADR Primer: Ways To Settle Divorce - Cheaper, Faster, Better

Media influence tends to stick. It has amazing tenacity for leaving its mark on everyday lives. Take divorce, for instance. Way back in 1979, Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep duked it out in divorce court in the Academy Award winning film, Kramer v Kramer. Since then, divorce continues to conjure up images of bitter litigation. But the reality is that the vast majority of divorces don't go to trial. Our post this week provides a snapshot of a few out-of-court methods under the umbrella of alternative dispute resolution (ADR).

ADR Options

Negotiation - It's the earliest and most obvious starting point for resolving end-of relationship issues such as property division and support. It can happen in a lawyer's office or across the kitchen table. In the best of scenarios, it starts with talks, ends with a signed agreement and a divorce order follows as a matter of course.

Mediation - Where negotiation stalls, mediation often picks up the ball. In many cases, issues can be resolved in a single session. Going this route means working with a mediator-- a neutral third-party who is often also a lawyer. Yet, the mediator's role is not to provide legal advice or make decisions, but to facilitate communication between both sides and to help them explore and discover their own customized solutions.

Arbitration - This option functions somewhat similarly to working with a court judge, but with a number of advantages. Disputing parties have the freedom to select their own arbitrator and to set down some ground rules - distinct benefits over being boxed in by official, rigid court rules. After hearing presentations and evidence by both sides, the arbitrator makes a legally-binding decision. The combination of flexibility during the process and certainty at the end is the main draw of this ADR option.

Med-Arb - Divorcing couples can roll the advantages of mediation and arbitration into a single process called mediation-arbitration, or med-arb. The parties start out working with a mediator. If and when they can proceed no further, any outstanding issues are decided on by the same individual who now takes on the role of arbitrator. With the issues already disclosed and no need to explain afresh to a new arbitrator, med-arb can work as a seamless out-of-court solution.

Dispute resolution options are there to draw upon, but selecting the right one can be tricky. Not all solutions are suitable for every situation. Pick the most appropriate one following the advice of a lawyer.

Getting divorced?

Call us. Our lawyers can navigate you through the options.

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