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Resolutions Outside Of Court

At Ellis Family Law, P.L.L.C., our attorneys have earned their reputations as effective litigators, but they are also highly regarded in successfully resolving their clients’ disputes outside of the courtroom through various forms of Alternative Dispute Resolution.


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 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 — has a vested interest in the matter reaching resolution.


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. 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 in a private conference room on any issues that the parties cannot, as opposed to public courtroom where family details of the parties are publicly aired.

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.

We Are Here To Help

The lawyers at Ellis Family Law, P.L.L.C., 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 919-944-4811 (Durham) or 919-891-8838 (Pittsboro), or use our online contact form to schedule a meeting.