Resolving Disputes Outside Of Court Is Often The Best Strategy

Ellis Family Law

At Ellis Family Law, P.L.L.C., our attorneys have earned their reputations as effective litigators, but they also are highly regarded for their effective negotiation skills. Through their experiences, the Ellis Family Law team knows how to best advise clients on how, when and under what terms to settle matters outside of court in order to maximize success. Simply put, there are times when litigation can do more harm than good. Having a knowledgeable lawyer who can help you make that decision is key when considering resolution of your matters through an alternative approach.

Why Alternative Dispute Resolution Makes Sense

Litigation is not necessary to resolve all disputes, and can sometimes be avoided if the parties attempt to resolve their conflicts through alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods such as mediation, arbitration or collaborative divorce. These processes enable a couple to resolve issues in a more humane, and often less-expensive, manner.

Through ADR, matters that frequently are litigated with high emotion and costs (i.e., custody, support and property division), are resolved well before the divorce judgment is entered, so the divorce action becomes a "friendly lawsuit." Mediation can, and often does, occur prior to the parties' actual separation date, so everyone is as prepared as possible emotionally and financially for the next chapter in their lives. It is often the best way to facilitate a separation with as much information about what to expect as possible.

Understanding Mediation

Mediation is a private discussion between the parties, which is facilitated by a trained mediator, in an effort to help the parties reach consensus on how to resolve their disputes. When the parties have control over when and how they resolve their issues, it often results in a better working relationship in the future. This is important when the parties have minor children and will continue to share parenting duties.

Mediation is often most successful when both parties are vested in reaching a resolution outside of court. Our team is experienced and knowledgeable in private mediation, both as advocates for a party and as serving as the neutral mediator. We also serve clients who choose the arbitration process or a blend of the two.

It is not always necessary to have independent counsel to represent each party in mediation. However, a mediator cannot give specific legal advice to the parties involved. If we serve as a mediator for unrepresented parties, our staff can walk you through the process so you are prepared to make decisions to resolve your disputes that day. Our mediator will draft the proposed agreement reached, and each party is free to take the draft to counsel of his or her choosing to ensure their rights are protected before signing. This keeps the parties' costs down as the mediator fees are typically split between the parties, and everyone — the parties and mediator — have a vested interest in the matter reaching resolution.

Understanding Arbitration

The main difference between mediation and arbitration is that in mediation the parties determine their outcome by reaching an agreement with the help of a third party who facilitates communication between them, while arbitration leaves the outcome up to a third party to determine. Parties use arbitration in lieu of litigation. In some instances, both parties select an arbitrator to serve in the process, and those two arbitrators select a third arbitrator. Majority decisions rule. Mediation is usually conducted with a single mediator.

Arbitration is akin to litigation, but in a more private, scheduled and controlled environment. Through arbitration, a neutral third party decides any issues that the parties cannot, but as opposed to the parties' family details being aired in a public courtroom arbitration is done in a private conference room.

Sometimes, a blend of mediation and arbitration (also known as med-arb) helps parties resolve their disputes. In the med-arb process, the parties attempt mediation. If the parties are unable to reach an agreement through mediation, the mediator will make the decision as an arbitrator at the end of the mediation session.

Understanding Collaborative Divorce

In collaborative divorce, each party is represented by legal counsel. Both sides agree upfront to strive to reach agreement on all matters without litigating. The parties meet in structured, private conferences to work to reach agreements on custody, support and all other matters that will be part of the final divorce decree. A neutral specialist in finances or in child psychology may be called in to help provide informed decision-making.

If an agreement cannot be reached in any area and the parties decide to proceed to litigation, the lawyers who participated in the collaborative divorce process must withdraw from the proceedings. They cannot represent the parties in court.

The goal of the collaborative divorce is to focus on the best interests of all parties involved, including minor children. The aim is to reach agreement with the help of attorneys and eliminate the need for court orders. It has been proven to reduce conflict and increase cooperation between divorced parents as they share parenting duties going forward.

We Are Here To Help

The lawyers at Ellis Family Law are skilled and knowledgeable in all forms of ADR. We are ready to help you resolve your family disputes with less stress and more cooperation. Call 866-771-6159 or use our online contact form to schedule a meeting.

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