Alternative Dispute Resolution
Attempting to resolve disputes outside the court process using other formal procedures is referred to as “Alternative Dispute Resolution” or ADR. Our experienced family law attorneys support resolution of disputes by agreements where possible. Sometimes those resolutions can best be achieved through use of ADR procedures.
In marriage dissolution and child custody situations, the type of ADR that is almost always utilized is “Mediation.” Mediation consists of the parties, and in some situations their attorneys, meeting with a trained family law mediator. In these structured meetings, which generally extend over three or four sessions of an hour or so each, the mediator assists the parties in focusing upon those issues that need to be resolved and explores with the parties the various considerations and options in hopes of helping the parties recognize a solution that meets everyone’s needs.
You may hear or read the terms “Early Neutral Evaluation” or ENE. There are two forms of ENE - Social ENE and Financial ENE. A Social ENE is a form of ADR that attempts to assist the parties in determining what a likely outcome of a custody dispute may be if the matter proceeded to court. Child custody trials are time-consuming and expensive. They inevitably will do harm to the family’s relationships and the child’s interests in maintaining a good relationship with each parent. Your child custody attorney can assist you in resolving these disputes with the best interests of your child in mind. A financial ENE is a form of ADR that attempts to assist the parties in determining what the court may consider to be a fair and equitable division of their assets and liabilities. Spousal maintenance may also be a topic discussed at a financial ENE.
You may have heard the term “collaborative law” or even had someone suggest that you and your spouse use “collaborative law” to resolve issues between you. The essence of collaborative law is a commitment by parties and attorneys not to go to court under any circumstances. While in some instances such a commitment might foster parties more readily reaching an agreement, in many instances it may foster “unreasonable” and “arbitrary” positions and behavior because it removes the option of turning to the Court for a determination of what is reasonable under the circumstances. Our experienced family law attorneys can advise you whether collaborative law would really serve the interests of you and your family.