Is ADR Right For You?

Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is becoming mainstream — especially in dealing with divorce. We talked earlier about alternatives like mediation and collaborative law. You may know a couple that got through their divorce pretty well using a mediator. But how do you know ADR is right for you?

The level of conflict a couple brings to a divorce determines the level of legal support that is needed during that process. Consider these points:

  • Kitchen table: If you can work through divorce issues with your spouse over the kitchen table, that is great — but be careful. The problem with making offers before seeking legal counsel is a lack of understanding about the long-term consequences of such offers. My advice is not to negotiate before talking to an experienced divorce lawyer.
  • Mediation: Couples who work together reasonably well are good candidates for mediation, or the collaborative process. Our mediators work carefully with clients to both represent their needs and draft informed agreements — without pressure. It costs less, takes less time and gives the whole family, not just one party or the other, a chance to win.
  • Collaborative law: Collaborative law offers more legal support than mediation, as each spouse has a trained collaborative attorney. Spouses and attorneys work together throughout the process, to reach agreements that do not require litigation.
  • Litigation: Mediation and collaborative law are low-conflict alternatives to litigation. But sometimes low conflict is just not possible. When issues and tempers are too explosive, you need clear, aggressive legal representation to protect your rights from the outset.

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