Not all family disputes have to be resolved in court. Depending on your unique circumstances, it may be possible to achieve a resolution to your family dispute outside of the courtroom. Avenues for pursuing a family dispute resolution without escalating the matter to litigation include mediation, arbitration, and collaboration. Let’s take a look at each.
Achieving Family Dispute Resolution Through Mediation
Mediation can be an effective and efficient way to resolve a family dispute without having to go to court. If you decide to pursue mediation, the process involves retaining the services of an independent third party (i.e. the mediator). The mediator would work to try and reach a “middle ground” where both you and your family member agree to an amicable resolution.
Some of the benefits associated with using mediation to achieve a resolution include saving time and money. These savings are typically due to the fact that mediation can be utilized early on in a family law dispute and generally does not entail expending significant sums of money (in many instances, both you and your family member would either split the cost of the mediator or reach an alternative payment arrangement).
Please be advised that mediators cannot provide legal advice or counsel to you or your family members. This is because the mediator is unbiased and will not “take sides” during the proceeding.
If you decide to pursue mediation, you should still retain the services of an experienced family dispute lawyer to review the mediated agreement and provide counsel before you sign on the dotted line. Even if the mediator is an attorney, you should still retain your own legal counsel to ensure you receive the best legal advice possible.
Mediation has many benefits, but it is also worth mentioning that mediation is generally not recommended if there is a track record of physical or mental abuse between the parties.
Achieving Family Dispute Resolution Through Arbitration
Arbitration shares many similarities with mediation, but also important distinctions. For example, in contrast to mediation, the process of arbitration vests more authority into the independent third party, as opposed to the disputing parties. Basically, with arbitration, the arbitrator assigned to your case will have the power to decide whether to agree to a particular proposal.
The process of arbitration involves both parties meeting with the arbitrator without their attorneys being present. During this informal meeting, both parties will indicate their objectives and priorities for an optimal resolution. At that point, the final decision will be left to the discretion of the arbitrator.
In many states, the decision rendered by an arbitrator will be deemed binding. This means that both parties will have no recourse and would be legally obligated to abide by the terms of the arbitrator’s decision.
Many people opt for arbitration when mediation proves to be unfruitful and require a neutral third party to actually render a decision to resolve the dispute. Another benefit to arbitration is that it is generally more cost-effective compared to escalating the dispute to litigation.
Obviously, if you want to retain a level of control over the specific provisions contained within an agreement that would resolve the dispute, arbitration is probably not the best avenue to pursue. Nevertheless, it is an option worth considering if you are unable, despite good faith efforts, to agree with your family member on important issues thereby necessitating the involvement of an independent third party to render a decision.
Achieving Family Dispute Resolution Through Collaboration
One of the newer dispute resolution options, especially for couples getting divorced, is engaging in a “collaborative” process that utilizes a team of professionals to help achieve a resolution. With a collaborative process, you would retain the services of experts in law, mental health, finance, etc. The collaborative approach, particularly in the context of a divorce, enables both parties to retain their own legal counsel, while sharing the expense of hiring other professionals. Your attorney will work with the other specialists to try and reach an amicable resolution. If an agreement is reached, a formal document will be signed by both parties (and their respective legal counsel), expressly stating that they will settle the matter without going to court.
If you fail to reach an agreement, the collaborative team would be asked to remove themselves from the proceedings, and the parties would basically start the process over again.
The collaborative process can be an effective approach to achieving a family dispute resolution since you will have access to an array of trained professionals capable of handling financial, legal, and other significant issues that routinely arise during a serious family dispute such as a divorce, custody battle, and so forth. In addition, trained professionals can also provide different perspectives and insights to help facilitate a reasonable outcome.
The collaborative approach may be worth consideration for your dispute if both you and your family members are willing and able to engage in good faith negotiations. You should also be willing to invest the time and resources necessary to reach an agreeable resolution. On the other hand, the collaborative process will likely not succeed if you are unwilling to engage in compromise, make efforts to communicate with your family member, and/or commit to working toward an amicable resolution. Basically, if you or your family members are not actually willing to negotiate in good faith or not interested in achieving an amicable outcome, the collaborative process will likely be a waste of time and resources.
Take Action by Contacting an Experienced Family Dispute Lawyer Today
Not all family dispute lawyers are the same. If you are looking for an attorney to assist with an alternative dispute resolution service, it is important to find an attorney with actual experience in these types of proceedings and with a track record of achieving favorable outcomes for their clients. This is why you should contact the Castro Law Offices today to schedule a confidential case review with Jeremy Castro. Jeremy understands the importance and sensitivity associated with family disputes, including contentious divorce and custody proceedings. Jeremy stands ready to help you during this difficult time.