A Brief Introduction to Alternative Dispute Resolution for Family Law

Just a few decades ago when a couple was going through a divorce, it meant they would typically be heading to court. Even couples that were attempting to end their marriage amicably could be drawn into courtroom litigation that fostered resentment rather than healing. Today, a growing majority in the divorce industry are realizing that for many couples, the use of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) techniques is a much better option for the client and the family.

ADR attempts to have the couple work together to come to agreements concerning the divorce. This is ideal not only for couples who are on good terms, but it can be most effective for couples with major disagreements too.  In fact, many couples credit the ADR process with allowing them to remain civil throughout the divorce process and long into the future. Learning about what ADR is and how it can help most couples through the divorce process is very important.

Collaborative Law

Collaborative law is a type of alternative dispute resolution where both parties retain their own legal representation. Rather than fighting in court, however, the parties enter into a contract wherein they agree not to take the matter before the court for decision.  Instead, they agree to work with their attorneys and other professionals, such as financial advisors and counselors, to attempt to reach agreements concerning the divorce.  An important aspect to remember about collaborative law is that if it becomes impossible for the parties to reach agreements, both attorneys will be obligated to excuse themselves from the case. This is a strong motivator for both couples, and their respective attorneys, to focus on working toward an agreed upon resolution.


When using mediation, both of the spouses will meet together with a neutral third party known as a mediator. One of the main differences between mediation and collaborative law is that each party is not required to bring their attorney to the mediation meetings, though they are permitted to and typically do.  Mediation can be helpful in highly emotional cases wherein the parties aim to reach an agreement, but are unable to work directly with the other party.  Unlike collaborative law, if mediation is unsuccessful and the matter must be decided by the court, each party can remain represented by their attorney in litigation.  In divorce cases, the mediator is often an attorney, but that is not always the case. The mediator’s job is to help guide the conversation toward mutually beneficial agreements, and even make suggestions that may not have been previously considered, providing a fresh perspective and ideas towards resolution.

Advantages of Alternative Dispute Resolution

ADR offers both parties many advantages. The most significant benefit is that the entire process is focused on resolving conflict rather than having it escalate. This can help avoid unnecessary hurt feelings or other issues that could cause further problems down the road. In addition, since ADR does not involve the courts, can be significantly less expensive than traditional divorce process. If you would like to learn more about collaborative law, mediation, or ADR in general, please contact Bliss Law Group today.

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