Divorce is one of the most painful and difficult experiences that a couple and their family can go through. A litigated divorce can be contentious and result in custody battles and hurt feelings that can tear families apart.
Fortunately, the options provided by alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods for divorce are more available now to California residents, offering an attractive alternative to litigation. ADR is less formal and offers couples more freedom to choose when and how their dispute will be resolved.
Among the benefits to a non-litigated divorce is a less expensive and time-consuming process. ADR methods create a civil, more amicable process and outcome. Rather than a zero-sum approach often used in litigated divorces, ADR creates a format where both parties can compromise while coming away with something of value. Finally, a divorce that ends up in court becomes a part of the public record. ADR remains private.
Two types of ADR
Two of the most common kinds of ADR are mediation and arbitration. In a mediation, an impartial third party, the mediator, works with both sides to try to find points of agreement. The mediator uses methods that facilitate the resolution of conflicts, but the process leaves the outcome in control of the parties involved.
Mediation is appropriate where strong emotions are getting in the way of resolving conflicts between the two parties, as well as for couples who wish to preserve their relationship. Mediation will most likely not be effective where one or both parties is uncooperative and uncompromising. Where one party has greater power over the other, or if there is a history of abuse, mediation is not appropriate.
In arbitration, a neutral third party will hear the arguments from each side and then makes a decision on the outcome of the dispute, which may be binding or nonbinding. In a binding arbitration, both parties agree ahead of time to accept the arbitrator’s decision as final and waive their right to a trial or appeal. In a nonbinding arbitration, the parties may request a trial if they do not agree with the arbitrator’s decision.
Arbitration works best for couples who do not wish to go through the formality and expense of a trial, but who want a neutral third party to decide the outcome. Arbitration is not best for couples who want to have control over how their dispute is resolved.
If you are going through a divorce in Manhattan Beach and are considering ADR, it is beneficial to find out more first by contacting legal counsel skilled in ADR methods.