Med-Arb And Collaborative Law – More Alternatives To Court

Over our last few posts, we’ve been discussing alternative dispute resolution in family law. ADR methods often produce a similar net result: ending disputes without the typically higher financial costs, time expenditure and emotional stresses of court litigation. This week, we end our series with two methods that fuse some of the benefits of negotiation, mediation and arbitration put together.

Collaborative Practice

Also known as “divorce with dignity” and “peaceful divorce”, collaborative law takes a rather holistic approach to ending family law disputes. Unlike mediation, it always involves attending with a lawyer and may also include the support of complementary experts such as psychologists, social or child workers, divorce coaches and financial specialists.

Keys to success hang on both sides having a willingness to share information, discuss respectfully and objectively, and work collaboratively toward a workable, mutually-agreeable solution. In fact, both sides and their lawyers pledge in writing not to go to court. There’s high motivation to end conflict effectively and expediently, for if no agreement is reached, the lawyers are not allowed to continue into court. Instead, their clients must find new lawyers to continue the case.


Med-Arb is a seamless process that moves from mediation into arbitration, if necessary. The mediation and arbitration components function in the same way as when they are used separately, but with one difference: the mediator and arbitrator are one and the same individual.

Both parties begin with the facilitative services of a neutral mediator. If consensus is reached, the results are set out in a separation agreement. If not, or if a number of outstanding issues remain, the parties move into arbitration with the mediator now acting as decision maker.

Med-arb cuts down the trouble of processing the two methods separately. No need to bring a new third party up to speed on the issues, and high motivation for all to agree sooner, given that a mandatory, binding decision is in the offing.

However, med-arb can also be unsettling. As an arbitrator, the mandate is to make a decision based on facts presented only in the arbitration session. Yet, after hearing informal discussions and, possibly, confidential information shared during mediation, the challenge of maintaining strict objectivity and impartiality is understandably at risk.

Whatever method former partners choose, ADR provide a number of options to end disputes, ideally without the downsides of conventional divorce.

In dispute over a family law matter?

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