Alternatives to Court

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Do I Have to Go to Court for Separation or Divorce?

Court hearings are often times time consuming, stressful and expensive. In an effort to alleviate the inefficiency of court, parties may elect to use a different approach such as alternative dispute resolutions (ADR). Arbitration and mediation are two methods of ADR. Arbitration and mediation are similar in that the parties agree to resolve (or attempt to resolve) the dispute, and both parties can be represented by an attorney during either ADR setting.  Additionally, both ADR methods can be used to resolve all or some of the issues in dispute.

While there are similarities between arbitration and mediation, there are several differences to be aware of as well. The chart below is a general comparison between the two dispute resolution alternatives.

Arbitration Mediation
3rd Party Decision Maker Arbitrator – chosen by the involved parties to hear all sides of the story/evidence and make a ruling. Mediator – promotes communication between the parties to assist in reaching an agreement.
Cost Generally, more than mediation often times to to arbitrator fees, the presentation of evidence, and the need for the arbitrator to evaluate evidence and determine a ruling. Usually a lower cost than arbitration due to lesser mediator fees, no presentation of evidence, and a faster process.
Time Most of the time, the date is agreed upon by the parties and is quicker than court, but longer than mediation. Typically, date is agreed upon by the parties and process is usually faster than court or arbitration.
Setting Less formal than a court room and usually in a conference room. Less forman than court room or arbitration. Usually each party and his/her attorney are in individual conference rooms and mediator communicates between the two.
Evidence Generally, the rules of evidence are determined by the parties involved, but are typically not as strict as if in court. Documents may be used to support negotiations, but are generally not viewed as evidence.
Judgment/Decision Given by arbitrator and is usually binding like a decision made by a judge during a hearing. Arbitrator decides on all issues heard unless otherwise agreed upon by both the parties. Made by an agreement of both the parties. All or some of the issues can be mediated. If some issues are unable to be agreed upon, either party can choose to conclude mediation at any time and pursue litigation.

Contact us today to meet with an attorney to discuss if arbitration or mediation may be right for you and your situation