The law regarding divorce and other family law matters is comprehensive, touching on various aspects of everyday life in the United States, such as marriage and divorce.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, most American adults in 2016 were married, with only 45.2 percent of adults being unmarried. However, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that roughly 42 percent of married couples got divorced in 2016.
Therefore, if you were to ever see the inside of a courtroom for a legal dispute, there’s a decent chance that it will be for a family law matter.
However, divorces litigation can be expensive and, unfortunately, some people do not have the financial resources to retain an attorney to represent them throughout the process. Fortunately, there are alternative methods to litigation for the resolution of divorce issues.
Types of Alternative Dispute Resolution for California Divorces
There are various forms of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) that are legally recognized under California law. Most ADR methods are founded on different levels of cooperation and compromise, with the goal of avoiding court intervention.
The most common types of ADR methods for divorce cases are mediation, collaborative divorce, and arbitration.
Mediation is a process where the parties to a dispute discuss and resolve vital legal issues under the supervision and guidance of a neutral third party known as a mediator. Most mediators are experienced members of the legal profession, such as retired-judges and lawyers. Unlike judges, mediators do not have the authority to make legally-binding decisions and orders. Instead, mediators generally act as a neutral intermediary to help guide negotiations. A successful mediation will result in a private settlement agreement containing the terms and conditions of the divorce, including property division, spousal support, as well as child custody and support, if applicable.
Collaborative divorce is a process similar to mediation as it also relies on the use of neutral third parties to help guide the parties to a mutual agreement regarding the vital issues in their divorce. Unlike mediation, the collaborative divorce process can involve the input of family law professionals, including lawyers, financial experts, as well as licensed family therapists and counselors.
The parties are represented by collaborative lawyers who serve mainly as advisors. Unlike conventional litigators, collaborative lawyers aren’t supposed to zealously advocate for their client’s interests at the other party’s expense. Instead, collaborative lawyers provide legal counsel to their clients while fostering cooperation. Like mediation, the collaborative divorce process results in a private settlement, if successful.
Arbitration proceedings are more formal than mediation or collaborative divorce, but still less than formal than courtroom proceedings. Like courtroom proceedings, the parties are positioned against each other. Like other ADR methods, arbitration involves a neutral third party: the arbitrator. However, unlike mediation or collaborative law, arbitrators can render legally binding decisions. In binding arbitration, the arbitrator’s judgment is final.
The Benefits of ADR
The chief benefit of ADR for divorce cases is the emphasis on cooperation and collaboration. The adversarial nature of conventional litigation had the tendency to exacerbate rifts and conflict between family members, with children often taking the brunt of the negative consequences. With ADR methods like mediation and collaborative divorce, the parties took the reins of their future without court intervention.
Another benefit of ADR is the potential cost savings it offers to the parties. This aspect of ADR is particularly beneficial to parties who are open to compromise, as it eliminates court costs and minimizes attorney’s fees.
ADR also provides the parties with more privacy than courtroom litigation. Laws regarding judicial transparency keep case filings and records open to the public. In contrast, the details of ADR proceedings are kept private for the most part. This also allows the parties in a divorce to be more candid, knowing that their personal affairs won’t be aired out for the public to see.
Our Legal Team at The Neshanian Law Firm, Inc. Can Represent You
Are you going through a difficult divorce? If so, you may benefit from the legal services provided by The Neshanian Law Firm, Inc. and its dedicated attorneys. We have experience litigating and negotiating on behalf of Irvine residents and their families for various matters concerning California family law.For more information, call us at (949) 577-7935 or contact our firm online.