A contested family law case does not necessarily require costly litigation in a public courtroom. Instead of arguing your case in court, you can be able to resolve contested issues through an alternative dispute resolution method, such as mediation, collaborative law, or arbitration.
There are benefits associated with alternative dispute resolution. It is often much more cost-efficient for the parties when compared to litigation in a courtroom. It can also result in resolving your case faster than going through the courts; in larger counties, it is not uncommon to wait at least a full year before being able to get on a court’s docket for a final trial.
Alternative dispute resolution methods are also confidential and do not take place in a courtroom that is open to public viewing. This can be beneficial for family law cases involving high-profile individuals (e.g. athletes, celebrities, politicians, etc.) or topics of a sensitive nature (such as business trade secrets or high-asset divorces)
If parties cannot resolve their case through negotiation or mediation and confidentiality is a concern, then arbitration may be an effective method for reaching a resolution. Arbitration is the private adjudication of disputed matters that would otherwise be resolved in court. Arbitration resembles a trial outside of a public courtroom.
In contrast to mediation where the mediator does not have authority to issue rulings, in arbitration the arbitrator is empowered to make decisions. Cases are usually referred to arbitration by agreement, and parties can agree to abide by the arbitrator’s decision on disputed issues.
Collaborative law is a unique and confidential method of resolving a divorce or child custody case. The parties in a collaborative law case work together through joint sessions to reach a settlement along with the help of specially trained professionals who assist with resolving financial and parenting issues.
The focus of parties in the collaborative law process is to find mutually beneficial solutions as opposed to each looking out exclusively for their own interests. Collaborative law involves sharing of information that would usually not be shared with the opposing side during litigation, and due to this the parties agree in advance that their lawyers will be disqualified from representing them in court if they cannot reach an agreement through the collaborative law process.
Collaborative law may not be right for every case, but for some it is an effective method to lessen conflict for families and work towards reaching an amicable agreement.
Mediation is one of the most frequently used methods of resolving divorce cases. Many courts will even require parties to attend mediation at least once before they can have a final trial.
Mediation is a private and confidential process that involves a neutral third party (the mediator) who does not have the power to make rulings in your case but instead works with the parties to facilitate a settlement. Typically, each party will be in a separate room with their attorney and the mediator will go back and forth between the rooms attempting to negotiate a resolution.
In mediation the parties share control over making decisions for how their case is resolved. When a court decides issues the judge is often bound by limitations and presumptions in the Texas Family Code that can result in “cookie-cutter” orders that may not be a fit for your family. In mediation you can make highly customized and detailed agreements with the other party that you are unlikely to receive in court.
If at the end of mediation you reach an agreement referred to as a “mediated settlement agreement,” that agreement becomes binding and irrevocable (assuming it meets the statutory requirement). This can provide relief in knowing that the end of litigation is in sight.
Our team at Mims Ballew Hollingsworth | Family Law includes family law attorneys who have received training specifically for collaborative law and can talk further with you about whether this process is a fit for your case. Call today for a consultation in Southlake, TX, & nearby.