Alternative Dispute Resolution (“ADR”) allows parties to resolve their conflicts or disagreements outside the court system. When couples separate, parties usually have to deal with financial matters, including division of property and spousal support, and if children are involved, then issues such as custody, parenting, and child support come into play. Two common ADR processes include mediation and arbitration.
What is Mediation?
When dealing with a relationship breakdown, mediation is process to negotiate a settlement on outstanding issues. The process is facilitated by a mediator that is an impartial third party who will help the parties decide what issues need to be resolved and assist them in reaching a mutually agreeable resolution. Mediation is usually an effective alternative for couples who are separating amicably but it can also be used by couples in a high-conflict situation.
Compared to litigation (having a Court resolve issues), mediation is cost-effective, less stressful, and allows parties to control outcomes. The process provides a safe space where the parties can voice their grievances and allows them to work together to find creative solutions to their issues. Since mediation is a voluntary process, any agreements or outcomes are non-binding until they are put into a court order or Agreement.
What is Arbitration?
Arbitration is an option for parties to access a private venue to resolve their family law matters. The process is overseen by Arbitrators, who are independent and neutral third parties, that hear arguments on disputes and decide on a final, binding decision (an “award”). Compared to mediation, arbitration is a more formal process and arbitrators, unlike mediators, can make binding legal decisions.
- Arbitrations are held privately, and unlike Court, no person is subject to observance by the public.
- The parties can select their preferred Arbitrator.
- It is usually less expensive and less time consuming than going to Court.
- The process is flexible – both lawyers and their clients can decide how the arbitration, disclosure of information, and preliminary steps are to be conducted.
- Arbitrations result in a binding decision upheld by law.
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Is there a difference between mediation and arbitration?
Both Mediation and Arbitration are alternatives to going to Court. However, Mediation is non-binding and the only way to resolve matters this way is if the parties agree. In the alternative, Arbitration is binding which means that if the parties cannot agree to resolving their family law matters, then the Arbitrator makes a decision that is legally enforceable.
What is the difference between litigation and arbitration?
Litigation is the process of having legal issues determined by a Judge in Court. In comparison, Arbitration is an out-of-court process and uses an Arbitrator to settle a dispute. Generally, Arbitration is considered to be faster, less expensive, and more private than Litigation. However, Litigation is considered to be more structured and it relies more on past Court decisions.
What is the difference between litigation and mediation?
Mediation is a guided negotiation and an alternative to Court for parties to resolve their family law issues. A Mediator will assist in exploring options for resolutions with the parties and help them reach agreement on as many issues as possible. In comparison, Litigation requires parties to make arguments before a Judge in Court who will ultimately make the decisions for them. Compared to Litigation, Mediation can be a cost effective, less stressful, and easier process for the parties control the outcomes.