Alternative Dispute Resolution in Family Law

 In Blog, Family Law

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) allows parties to resolve disputes without traditional litigation. In family law, ADR can offer separated spouses a less expensive and more flexible path to resolution. This blog post provides a brief overview of the different types of ADR.

Alternative Dispute Resolution in Family Law

Mediation

Mediation is a method of ADR where parties work with an impartial, third-party mediator who facilitates a negotiation between the parties. A mediator cannot provide legal advice nor make decisions on issues, but can help spouses determine their best options, allowing them to reach an agreement that meets the needs of both parties. Each party should obtain legal advice from a lawyer prior to signing an agreement.

Arbitration

In this method of ADR, the parties appoint an arbitrator to make a binding decision regarding the parties’ positions. The parties have the freedom to choose a decision-maker who may have specific expertise concerning the issues in dispute. Furthermore, the process can be less formal than traditional litigation, which means that a decision may be reached within a shorter time period. Separating spouses can also agree to their own timelines, and set up the process to suit their specific needs.

Parties must seek independent legal advice prior to commencing arbitration. While an arbitrator’s award can cover issues of property, child and spousal support, parenting time, and the decision-making responsibility of children, divorces and annulments cannot be granted.

Mediation-Arbitration

This two-step process combines the methods of mediation and arbitration. Like mediation, separating spouses can choose a mediator to help them reach an agreement. However, if a mediation is unsuccessful, an arbitrator can make a final decision, which saves the parties both time and money.

Collaborative Family Law

This modern practice of family law allows the separating spouses and their lawyers to work collaboratively towards a negotiated outcome. As part of this practice, the parties will commit to avoiding litigation while negotiating. Rather than focus on their differences, parties are encouraged to create solutions that work for both sides by acknowledging and understanding what is important to the other. If an agreement is not reached, the parties can still go to court, but will have to hire different lawyers.

Contact the Family Law Team at Brown Beattie O’Donovan to help you determine which choice is right for you!

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