Stretch Your Divorce Dollars Through Alternative Dispute Resolutions
As the tax deadline looms, many couples have earmarked tax refunds to help pay for their divorce.
We have some ideas for how to get the most out of those dollars by offering information on types of alternative dispute resolutions.
Referred to in family law circles as ADRs, these resolutions pack some powerful benefits:
- Save time- Disputes for everything from straightforward to complex cases can be resolved in a few weeks or months, as opposed to lawsuits, which can take years.
- Save money- Keeping cases out of litigation is cheaper because the parties avoid additional court expenses and attorney fees.
- Increased participation- Going the ADR route means you have an opportunity to express your concerns. Litigation focuses on each party’s legal rights and responsibilities.
- Greater flexibility and control- The outcome can be one that benefits both parties because they were able to work together to achieve the resolution.
- Happy ending- Because ADRs encourage communication, you’re less likely to feel combative toward each other throughout the process. It is common for both parties to exit the ADR process feeling as though they fared well.
The California Courts identify the most frequently used ADR processes as follows:
This is a method of reaching a resolution by bringing the two parties together to discuss options and work through the sometimes painful emotions that go along with divorce. A mediator acts as a neutral overseer of the process and guides the parties along until they can come to agreement. Mediation is a proven process, and we have written about its benefits in the past.
The goal of a settlement conference is simple: to help both parties negotiate a resolution of all or part of their dispute. You and your spouse can choose a settlement conference, or it could be court-ordered. The judge assigned to your case will conduct the conference in some situations, or it could be assigned to another judge, a volunteer attorney, or a private judge. The overseer of the conference evaluates the case’s strengths and weaknesses without issuing any decisions or orders, but attempting to help the parties reach a settlement, according to the Superior Court of California.
Settlement conferences are free, but lawyers involved typically charge clients for their time in preparing for and attending the conference.
This type of ADR involves a neutral third party to listen to presentations by both parties of their positions, and then offers an evaluation of the case.
Cases involving complicated law questions, difficult evidentiary issues, or damages that are difficult to prove often are good candidates for this resolution method because it provides an opportunity for a third party to consider each party’s position and evaluate the case.
Arbitration is a process that takes place outside the courtroom atmosphere in front of an arbitrator instead of a judge. It is similar to mediation, in that both sides share their facts and arguments, and a decision is imposed.
Our San Diego family law attorneys can assist you through any of these processes. Please call our office to schedule an appointment if you would like to learn more about alternative dispute resolutions, and which option might best suit you.