Divorce settlements in court tend to be expensive. So you and your spouse may decide to settle the end of your marriage on your own. Maybe you have reached that point in your relationship when you’re able to discuss critical concerns and agree on matters. But what happens when you hit a snag in your negotiations, and no one is suddenly willing to yield?
You can still proceed with the divorce without going to court and end matters amicably with alternative dispute resolutions.
A Better Way to Resolve Divorce Issues
Alternative dispute resolution comprises a variety of approaches that can help you as a divorcing couple come to an agreement, one that is binding. These approaches are mediation, arbitration, and collaborative divorce. What is the advantage of one over the other? And are there limitations?
Mediation in a divorce process is required in some states. Why? First, it gives you an opportunity to work out any disputes, eliminating the need to contest a hearing. Second, it gives you control over matters that only you as a couple know about; the judge can decide, but that only means a stranger imposed a decision on your life. And third, it can help keep out hostilities.
This process involves you and your spouse with your lawyers, and in some cases, a third-party to facilitate the conversation between you two. The mediator’s role is simply to guide you in making a decision; they have no authority to impose a decision, like a judge or an arbiter.
Among all of the alternative options for divorce settlement, arbitration resembles a court hearing the closest. The primary goal of arbitration is to adjudicate your differences as a couple and issue a decision. Arbitration occurs in a private session whereas court hearings are public.
Once both cases are heard and issues presented, the arbiter comes up with a decision that is binding; you may appeal, but the arbiter’s judgment is typically not overturned.
In arbitration, you can choose your arbitrator. You can also relax the usual rules of evidence, where written statements are as good as a witness attending in person. You also control your arbitration sessions. You and your ex-spouse determine when and where the next hearing will happen.
The primary difference of arbitration from other forms of alternative dispute resolutions is that the arbitrater makes the decision for you regarding property dividing, debt dividing, child custody, and alimony, much like divorce litigation does.
Collaborative divorce has the same goal as mediation at arriving on a settlement, though the method is different. You need to attend four-way sessions with your respective attorneys; discussing your demands from the divorce and negotiating to achieve the middle ground.
This method uses the team approach where both parties need to work together to reach an agreement. Any experts, like property and financial advisors, participating in the discussion should be neutral and agreed to by both parties.
Divorce is tough enough without the enmity. It’s especially difficult when children are involved. So if you and your spouse can come to an agreement without contentious litigation, look into alternative dispute resolution. You’ll find the end of a marriage doesn’t have to be punctuated with disagreements.