Alternative Dispute Resolution and playing nice

Divorce can be expensive, traumatic, pro-longed, and stressful. The good news is there are new alternative dispute resolution strategies that have been developed in the last several decades which can encourage all parties in the divorce process to play nice and resolve divorce issues fairly and less expensively.

We all know divorce is difficult. We’ve also heard that seeking therapy, being truthful, and remaining open to selling assets and moving on may be the best option for everyone. We also know that if you have children making sure they are well-cared for will be one of your greatest concerns.

But what is the best strategy for accomplishing all of your goals? Many couples have decided that the solution is using an alternative dispute resolution strategy

Alternative Dispute Resolution what is it?

Alternative Dispute Resolution methods include a variety of techniques to resolve conflict: mediation, arbitration, early neutral evaluation, and conciliation. The goal of all of these strategies is to eliminate the conflict, cost, and potential threat of litigation that can occur in any dispute. In divorce, the most common Alternative Dispute Resolution method is mediation.

What is mediation?

Mediation allows couples the opportunity to decide major divorce decisions together, allowing for each person to identify what is most important to them.

Mediation also allows a third-party, neutral negotiator (mediator) to help a couple resolve areas of conflict. Although the mediation may not be binding, a good mediator can help develop empathy between both the parties, help in the decision making process, brainstorm ideas, and hopefully keep all lines of communication open between both parties.

Mediators can also help couples keep focused on the most important issues and lead the discussion back to the main points when couples veer off-track. Although mediators can help with a variety of issues, mediation generally deals with the following:

  1. Child support payments
  2. Retirement issues
  3. Child custody arrangements
  4. Distribution or assets and the payment of liabilities
  5. Payment of taxes

Why is Alternative Dispute Resolution better than going to court?

Couples without children may have little reason to interact following a divorce. With kids, however, the spouses are likely to interact quite frequently. Lack of good communication skills may have been a primary contributing factor to the divorce. Mediation as an Alternative Dispute Resolution strategy may be used to improve communication between the spouses, improvements which could carry-over after the divorce.

Does the mediator in the Alternative Dispute Resolution sessions work for me?

The mediator is tasked with remaining neutral, which means they do not work for either party. This also means they will help both couples generate ideas and communicate these ideas in an open and free exchange of information.

Finally, the Alternative Dispute Resolution strategy is voluntary, which means it only works if all the parties involved agree that it is the best strategy. If done right, it can expedite the divorce proceedings and may be completed in as little as four to ten sessions. The good news is that compared to litigated cases, which can take up to 18 months to resolve and cost close to $20,000, mediation (on average) may be completed for as little as $3,000 and finished within 90 days.

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