Alternative Dispute Resolution
There are many methods of obtaining a final judgment in divorce, separation, and other family law matters. Because traditional trials before judges and juries tend to be time consuming, expensive, and emotionally draining, many people are now choosing alternative methods of reaching final resolution. Depending on the method used to reach resolution, the parties to a case have more control over the outcome reached, the way information is presented, and the privacy of the case. This can provide parties more ownership and peace during the resolution process.
Common methods of alternative resolution are:
This method of resolution affords people the most flexible, confidential means of resolving their dispute while using a trained professional. A neutral person, called a mediator, meets with the parties in a divorce to facilitate a discussion and help the parties reach a tailored agreement. Mediation allows you to consult with your attorney during the process, or have them present during the sessions. Since family law is quite complicated, it is important for you to get independent legal representation before settling your case in mediation. If the parties reach an agreement, it is put in writing and becomes the basis of the final order of the Court. Mediation is required before trial in many Georgia counties because of the limited number of judges available to hear trials.
This method is similar to presenting a case to a judge. However, it is held in private and is often less formal in setting than a judge’s court room. The arbitrator acts as a judge and makes a decision that is usually made into a binding court order. There are some appeal rights in some situations, however.
Blended Mediation and Arbitration
This method blends mediation and arbitration together. Parties consult a neutral who is trained as both a mediator and arbitrator. Sessions start out utilizing the mediation format. If the parties are unable to reach an agreement as to some of their issues, the issues are submitted to the neutral for final determination. This means the neutral will “rule” on how the final disagreements will be resolved. Many parties like this option because it affords them the opportunity to try to work out their differences in a self-directed way, but then not start all over with a judge if they are unable to reach an agreement.
Case Evaluation or Early Neutral Evaluation
In this process a lawyer with expertise in the subject matter of the litigation evaluates the case. Each side presents a summary of its legal theories and evidence. The evaluator assesses the strength and weaknesses of each side’s case and helps the parties narrow the legal and factual issues in the case. This conference is designed to streamline discovery and other pretrial aspects of the case. The early neutral evaluation of the case may also provide a basis for settlement discussions.
Collaborative divorce is a non-confrontational method of alternative dispute resolution in family law. It is the attorney's job in the collaborative setting to assist the clients to resolve conflicts by employing cooperative techniques, not adversarial strategies and litigation. The goal is to achieve a negotiated resolution, and the parties agree, in the collaborative process, not to commence formal litigation during the negotiation process. The lawyers commit to manage the conflict, emotional issues and relationship issues creatively and constructively. Neutral "specialists" are often involved to assist the clients with financial or custodial issues. Monica is a certified and trained Collaborative Law attorney and has handled many collaborative cases effectively.