Divorce: Alternative Dispute Resolution Methods
When a couple determines that divorce is the only option, the process does not have to be adversarial, involve protracted litigation, and/or require mounds of paperwork. In recent years, there has been a rise in alternative dispute methods as more couples desire an amicable—or, at least, less contentious—process for divorce. Alternative dispute methods are generally appropriate for couples where the divorce is not contested and the parties are willing listen and compromise with one another. Below we discuss the two most popular alternative dispute resolution methods for divorce: mediation and collaboration.
Mediation is when two separating spouses hire a neutral third party to facilitate their divorce negotiations without having to go through a trial or other court proceedings. It can be an appropriate choice for individuals that favor a more informal and non-adversarial process. Mediation begins with both parties providing background information about their marriage, their issues, and what they hope to achieve from the dissolution of the marriage. Parties wishing to engage in mediation should be prepared to articulate their goals upfront in order to make the process as smooth as possible.
The key benefit of mediation is that it is less expensive than traditional divorce proceedings, primarily because attorneys are generally not involved in the actual mediation and there is no litigation. In some cases, the only attorney involved is the actual mediator. One of the additional benefits to mediation is that it does not occur in open court, so there is no public record of the proceedings, allowing all discussions regarding assets, children, etc., to remain confidential.
Collaborative divorce is the process in which both spouses, with the aid of their own attorneys, negotiate their divorce terms through a cooperative process. It is similar to mediation in that the process is non-adversarial and does not include litigation. However, with collaboration, each spouse has his or her own attorney and all parties engage in four-way conversations as part of the negotiation process. Collaboration can be an appropriate choice for individuals that do not want to go through formal court proceedings, but want the guidance of an attorney during all steps of the divorce process.
The Collaboration process begins with the parties entering into an agreement providing that if they do not reach an agreement and decide to pursue litigation, all attorneys must withdraw from the case and cannot represent the spouses in any future litigation. The divorce process essentially then starts over, which can be costly both financially and time-wise. The purpose behind this agreement is to encourage the parties to work together to reach an agreement and avoid future litigation.
If you are considering a divorce and need help determining if an alternative dispute resolution method is appropriate for you, post a short summary of your legal needs or issue on www.legalserviceslink.com, and let the perfect attorney come to you!
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