The Effects of Alternative Dispute Resolution in Divorce and Child Custody

While people often assume that going through the courts is the only way to divorce and to address issues with child custody, there are several alternative methods to this type of litigated divorce.

The three most commonly used types of Alternative Dispute Resolution or ADR include collaboration, also known in some areas as collaborative family law, mediation, and arbitration.

Each of these options avoids going through the court system, which can be helpful in reducing conflict and also building a strong foundation as co-parents moving forward. Each form of alternative dispute resolution has different pros and cons, and understanding the differences is important in choosing the best option.

Collaborative Law
Collaborative law or collaboration involves the spouses and their respective attorneys. Meetings are held that allow the couple to negotiate the terms of their divorce, including property, child custody, and other issues. The attorneys for the couple are participants in the meeting, providing legal advice in their client’s best interest.

This is a good idea with complex types of assets, child custody agreements, or when there are issues such as family businesses, large estates, or other factors involved.

Mediation uses a neutral third-party, a mediator, who is there to facilitate a discussion and possible settlement between the divorcing couple. The couple presents their information, and they discuss possible settlement options, with the mediator managing the process.

This is a lower cost option, without the need for attorneys present. The discussion is entirely confidential, and there is no transcript or record of the discussion other than the final agreement. The parties to the mediation can have their attorney review the agreement before it is finalized if required.

Arbitration is slightly different and is more like a modified court process. The arbitrator is a neutral third-party that is hired by the couple to hear the facts of the case and to make a final decision as to the terms of the divorce.

Most arbitrators are retired family court judges or attorneys, and the decision they arrive at based on the information both parties present is considered to be binding and cannot be appealed. This may be a consideration as there is no further legal option if one or both parties do not agree on the decision of the arbitrator.

Utilizing ADR is a cost-effective option for divorcing couples. It is particularly effective when both parties want to work together to create a divorce settlement that is fair, equitable, and helps to reduce conflict for each other and for their children.

Keller Legal Service, provide alternative methods to this type of litigated divorce. Which can be helpful in reducing conflict and also building a strong foundation as co-parents moving forward.