Are there alternatives to divorce litigation?

Seldom is divorce looking on as an amicable process. Indeed, our society shows us examples of how much infighting divorce can cause, and the media splashes the latest celebrity divorce across our screens every day. But, divorce and litigation can be two separate things, and once can get a divorce without ever actually needing to go through litigation. This is what is known as the alternative dispute resolution process.

Alternative dispute resolution version litigation

Litigation is the traditional courtroom hearings with a family court judge. It is the most expensive and longest way to divorce. This has never been truer than it is now because of the ever-increasing backlog of divorce cases. Most of us by now have heard of the divorce tsunami, and it has finally hit the courts, hard. This means taking a process that normally would only take months to, perhaps, taking a year or more. And, of course, this means larger legal bills. But, with ADR, the entire court system can be largely avoided.

What does ADR mean?

Really, it just refers to all the ways that a couple can come to an agreement on all the elements of a divorce, like child custody, property division, etc. The most recommended ADR process is mediation. Under this system, an impartial mediator works with both couples to find a compromise on what both parties want. They do this by speaking with both parties to learn what they want and marrying those wants and needs together. The goal is compromise and fairness.

What does it look like?

For our Oakland, California, the set-up will depend on the couples as most mediators will customize the mediation for the couple. For some, this may mean working with only the couples together in the same room, and then having them separately run compromises by their attorneys. For others, it will be with everyone in the room, including the attorneys. And, for others, it could be separate areas, where the mediator goes back and forth. Really, every mediation should be a bit different because everyone is different.