Although traditional divorce conjures up images of courtroom drama and custody battles that end up in hurt feelings that linger, many Californians are discovering that they have other options now. Alternative Dispute Resolution, or ADR, methods are growing increasingly popular as alternatives to litigated divorce.
There are many benefits to ADR methods when going through divorce. A divorce that is handled out of court is not only far less expensive, it also takes much less time than a contested divorce proceeding. Litigation costs include lawyer’s fees on each side, court costs and appraisals and retainer fees during a lengthy proceeding that can go on for years.
ADR offers a less confrontational approach to divorce where both sides can resolve their differences in private. A non-litigated divorce is more civil and provides both sides with opportunities to explore options that allow both sides to come away with something of value. This can lead to an amicable settlement agreement, which is good not only for the spouses but also for the children.
Two approaches to out-of-court settlements
Both mediation and collaborative divorce are becoming more common in California, and each has effective methods of bringing both sides together to create a win-win for everyone involved.
Mediation offers resolution to conflicts through a neutral third party, often a family law attorney. The mediator is skilled at discovering both points of contention as well as areas of agreement between the two sides.
After meeting with each side to discover priorities and concerns, the task of the mediator is to bring both sides together to identify areas where they can find resolution, and then use this momentum to work toward the resolution of larger conflicts. Each side is encouraged to recognize that they will come away with some, but not all, of what they want.
Collaborative divorce is an interest-based negotiation between both sides who are each represented by the skilled resources of a collaborative lawyer. At the outset, both attorneys sign an agreement that they will not take the case to court, and if an agreement cannot be reached, then they will withdraw.
Often, the collaborative divorce process also includes the services of a mental health professional who helps both sides to work through difficult emotional triggers that may arise, as well as financial advisors to help with the financial aspects of the settlement.
Finding a family law group in Livermore and the Bay Area skilled in ADR methods can provide opportunities for a peaceful transition to a new life chapter for everyone involved.