Divorce and Out-of-Court Proceedings: Alternative Dispute Resolution
A divorce can be resolved through informal negotiations between the divorcing spouses (usually with attorneys), through use of out-of-court alternative dispute resolution proceedings that tend to facilitate a voluntary settlement, or in the traditional court setting -- when a judge or jury makes final decisions. The vast majority of divorces are resolved before issues must go before a judge or jury, many through the use of alternative dispute resolution processes such as mediation, collaborative family law, and arbitration.
Is Alternative Dispute Resolution Right for You?
If you and your spouse decide to proceed with divorce, one option is alternative dispute resolution (ADR). ADR may prove to be a beneficial tool in resolving your divorce and related issues, depending on factors such as 1) the degree to which you and your spouse are in dispute on key issues like child custody and property division, and 2) your willingness to work together to resolve those issues.
ADR processes tend to be less adversarial and more casual than the traditional court setting, and may encourage and facilitate early settlement. With mediation and collaborative family law, you and your spouse (along with your attorneys) have an opportunity to play an active role in resolving key decisions related to the divorce, instead of having a third party (judge or jury) make those decisions. Rarely used in divorce cases, arbitration is a more structured ADR option, in which a neutral third-party makes decisions after hearing both spouses' evidence and arguments. The arbitrator's decision in a divorce case is not necessarily final, and the parties may still be able to resolve key issues before a court at a later date.
In some states, divorcing couples may be required to attempt some form of ADR before proceeding in family court, so it is a good idea to understand your options. Learn about out-of-court alternatives for resolving a divorce: