There are many reasons that people thinking about divorce may want to pursue alternative dispute resolution (ADR) systems instead of a litigated process. They may have young children who they want to shield from the acrimony that often develops in a litigated divorce. There could be deeply personal issues that one spouse or the other believes are relevant for the purposes of property division, support or custody matters.
It could be concerns about the cost of a litigated divorce and the damage that the adversarial approach to dissolution can cause to a relationship that might also inspire people to look for alternative approaches. There are many forms of ADR available. As a result, those preparing for divorce often attempt collaborative negotiations, arbitration or mediation. Those considering a low-conflict solution to an upcoming divorce will need to be very careful about seeking professional support, as it could make all the difference to the outcome of the matter at hand.
ADR professionals are often crucial to success
Although collaborative negotiations often involve two spouses and their lawyers working cooperatively, both arbitration and mediation involve a neutral third-party professional. In arbitration, that professional serves a role much like that of a judge. They hear about circumstances from both spouses and determine what they believe would be an appropriate solution.
During mediation, their job is largely to facilitate discussions and support the process of compromising so that the spouses can reach a settlement that they both agree is workable. Hiring an ADR professional who has a history of success and who does not have any personal or professional ties to either spouse or their attorneys will be important for those hoping to pursue a fair outcome in mediation or arbitration.
The right representation is also important
People can make major mistakes about their own rights and protections when attempting ADR during a divorce. For example, they might make the mistake of hiring a lawyer who has no experience with mediation or arbitration. A lawyer who is too aggressive during ADR might derail the process and alienate the professional overseeing it or the other spouse and their lawyer. On the other hand, lawyers can also be too passive and fail to advocate for a client’s best interests, which is why their presence is so important during mediation or arbitration.
There’s a fine balance when hiring professional support when spouses opt to pursue ADR. Reviewing the professional records of ADR specialists and individual attorneys can be a good starting point for those who want to have the best support and representation during their upcoming divorce proceedings.