How to Resolve Disputes Outside of Court Using ADR

When it comes to resolving a dispute, proceeding with an in-court trial isn’t always the best option, and it’s certainly not your only one. This doesn’t mean we are advocating a midnight meeting with your ex-husband at Huddle House to hash out child custody details. It means we are advocates for alternative dispute resolution methods, which can save you time and money.

Alternative dispute resolutions are resolution processes that utilize a neutral third party to assist disputants in reaching an amicable resolution, as an alternative to a trial. There are several types of ADR approaches, the most common being mediation, arbitration and settlement conferences. Although some are more appropriate for certain situations than others, they all share the following common benefits.

  • They save you time- Litigation can last for years before a case finally goes to trial. Disputants are also not at the mercy of having to wait for a court schedule. They can schedule an ADR anytime, which speeds the process.
  • They save you money- Attorney hours, copying and mailing costs, and court reporter fees add up. And as already established, ADR is quicker- and time is money.
  • Increased confidentiality- There is a reason you are able to get all of the details of famous divorce cases – they went to trial. Court cases, judgments, and opinions are often public record. The ADR process is confidential.

What are your options for solving disputes outside court?

Mediation – a neutral person called a “mediator” assists the disputants as they attempt to reach a mutually acceptable resolution.

“The mediator’s job is not to decide the dispute, but make sure the parties communicate effectively so they can reach a settlement on their own,” says Encinitas divorce lawyer John Griffith. “Mediation is not suitable for parties who are unwilling to compromise, or for parties with a history of abuse or victimization.”

Arbitration – an impartial person called an “arbitrator” hears arguments and evidence from each disputant and then decides the outcome. Arbitration is similar in structure to a trial, but is less formal, and the rules regarding evidence are more relaxed. There are two types of arbitration: binding and nonbinding.

Binding arbitration means each party has opted to waive their right to a trial, and agreed to accept the arbitrator’s decision as final. There is generally no right to appeal an arbitrator’s decision in a binding arbitration.

Nonbinding arbitration means that the arbitrator still makes a decision, but either party is free to request a trial if they do not accept the arbitrator’s decision.

Settlement conference – parties and their respective attorneys meet with a judge or an impartial person called a “settlement officer” to discuss possible settlement of their dispute. The judge or settlement officer does not make a decision in the case, but aids the disputants in evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of the case, and in negotiating a settlement.

Mediation, arbitration and settlement conferences can save you time and money, but aren’t right for every case. Call today to discuss your situation with an experienced Griffith, Young and Lass divorce lawyer, who can point you in the right direction.

For further information about alternatives to trial, click here.