Divorce and Out-of-Court Proceedings: Alternative Dispute Resolution

The divorcing spouses can resolve the issues of the divorce through informal negotiations or by using out of court alternative dispute resolution methods. These alternative dispute resolution methods aim to reach an amicable and voluntary settlement between the spouses. The issues are resolved amicably unlike in the court where the judge or the jury decides on the issues. Many divorce cases are resolved before trial. Most of them are resolved using mediation, arbitration, collaborative law process and other alternative dispute resolution methods.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Alternative dispute resolution is an option for any couple wishing to divorce. It can help the couple resolve the issues associated with the divorce. The two key factors that can affect the outcome of an alternative dispute resolution method are 1) the degree of dispute between the spouses on important issues such as property division and custody and 2) the willingness of the spouses to resolve the issues.

Alternative dispute resolution is more causal and informal compared to court settings. It is also less adversarial thereby facilitating an amicable settlement. By using collaborative law process and mediation, both spouses can actively take part in resolving the issues unlike litigation where the judge or the jury decides on the issues. Arbitration, a more structured option is used in rare cases. In arbitration a neutral third party called the arbitrator hears the spouses, reviews their evidence and passes a decision. The parties may accept the decision of the arbitrator as the resolution of the dispute or take the issues to court.

In some states, the law requires couples to use some form of alternative dispute resolution before filing a divorce petition.

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