If you and your spouse are ending your marriage, the prospect of a lengthy and possibly contentious divorce in court is probably a process you would like to avoid.
More appealing options are available through two forms of alternative dispute resolution, or ADR. What are they and what are the differences?
ADR is a process for settling disputes that allows the participants to avoid litigation. ADR is used in the business world and it is also used in divorce, either through mediation or collaboration.
If you and your soon-to-be-ex choose collaborative divorce, you will each retain your own attorney. You will meet separately and then the four of you will meet. You and your spouse will exchange information freely and work out your differences in order to reach a suitable divorce agreement. Outside professionals such as a CPA, a financial analyst and a childcare expert may join in to assist. However, if you fail to reach agreement, both attorneys must withdraw. At this point, you must hire new lawyers and go to trial.
In mediation, you and your spouse would meet with a mediator. This neutral third party will provide guidance and access to legal information and as you and your spouse work together to create a divorce agreement. Open communication is key in mediation.
Neither mediation nor collaborative divorce is an adversarial process. Both forms of ADR allow the parties much more control over their divorce than litigation does. ADR processes are also less expensive, less time-consuming and much less stressful than a public divorce in court. Both mediation and collaboration preserve dignity and respect and help participants enter the post-divorce world with greater confidence.