Mediation and Other Alternative Dispute Resolution Options

Traditional divorces are often highly confrontational and antagonistic, causing undue stress on the individuals involved. This adversarial approach may make it difficult for the parties to work together after the divorce is finalized, particularly in regard to child rearing decisions and parenting time agreements. Luckily, there are other options available to those wishing to dissolve their marriage as amicably as possible.

Alternative dispute resolution processes help parties come to amicable agreements outside of the courtroom. There are several types of alternative dispute resolution, including: mediation, arbitration, collaborative law, and (in Hennepin county) early neutral evaluation. These resolution processes typically produce less stress, cost less and are resolved more quickly than a traditional divorce.

Meditation is a process through which the two parties, along with their attorneys, work together to reach a mutually agreed upon settlement. A highly trained third party, called a mediator, facilitates the negotiation. Mediation is non-binding, which means if the parties cannot reach an agreement the case may still proceed to court.

Arbitration is much like mediation, except that the third party, called the arbitrator, issues a final, binding decision. Due to its binding nature, and to the fact that obtaining an appeal is highly unlikely, arbitration is most often used to settle post-divorce issues, including those involving child custody and/or parenting time.

Collaborative law is a relatively new process through which both parties and their attorneys formally agree to work together to reach a settlement. If during the course of negotiations a settlement cannot be reached, the attorneys must withdraw and the parties must obtain new representation in order to proceed to court.