Arbitration and mediation are alternatives to traditional litigation. This process generally involves a neutral third party, the arbitrator, who helps two parties reach a resolution over a legal dispute. When it comes to family law matters, this alternative is very useful. Instead of a courtroom battle, the divorcing couple can move forward with arbitration or mediation process.
Both forms of alternative dispute resolution have advantages. These include the likelihood that they will be less expensive compared to litigation, more efficient and more private. There are instances when the process snowballs and these benefits are lost. Three steps you can take to help better ensure you reap the rewards of these benefits include:
- Focus. If efficiency and privacy are your goal, keep this in mind throughout the process. Avoid demanding additional evidence such as multiple valuations unless necessary as these can add cost and time to the process.
- Consider additional agreements. Arbitration and mediation can remain private, while litigation is public. If this is a goal, it is wise to have a confidentiality agreement. Present this agreement at the beginning of the process to better ensure both parties are aware of the expectation for confidentiality and the consequences if that agreement is not honored.
- Prepare to compromise. It is important to have some flexibility. If there are specific assets you wish to keep, such as business interests, be prepared to offer another in exchange, such as a family home or other piece of real estate.
When used wisely, these alternatives to traditional divorce litigation can result in a divorce settlement agreement that both parties are more likely to honor.