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Alternative Dispute Resolution – a better divorce?

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Alternative dispute resolution comes in a number of forms, endorsed by Resolution, the campaign group that promotes good practice in family law and which is supported by many of the best Family Solicitors. But what is alternative dispute resolution? And how can alternative dispute resolution lead to a better divorce? Although London Family Solicitors have been familiar with the benefits of resolving the issues surrounding divorce without an acrimonious court battle, many will still have no understanding of the alternatives that are available. Negotiation, mediation, collaborative law and arbitration are all strategies that the best London family lawyers will understand. In this blog, we aim to provide an overview – for more information, a discussion with an experienced family solicitor will be able to assist.

What is alternative dispute resolution?

At the heart of alternative dispute resolution is a need to resolve a dispute quickly, more cheaply, perhaps even without involving lawyers. Ultimately, alternative dispute resolution allows a couple who are willing to engage in this way to resolve their divorce more quickly and more flexibly than in court. And while many couples who go into a divorce may do so thinking they will be facing months – even years – of court hearings, alternative dispute resolution offers a very different option. If you are considering googling ‘family divorce lawyers near me’ check the results to see if the solicitor you are thinking of contacting offers alternative dispute resolution.

How can Alternative Dispute Resolution offer a better divorce?

In practical terms, alternative despite resolution can often be quicker and cheaper than a traditional court room divorce. This in itself offers a big advantage to couples who usually want to settle their affairs as soon as possible so that they can move on in their new lives. Equally importantly, alternative dispute resolution offers the possibility of a more flexible agreement, designed to meet the needs of your individual situation. You can agree, with or without the involvement of lawyers, to arrangements that might not be open to the courts. In a situation where children are involved, this can be particularly helpful.

Alternative Dispute Resolution also offers a huge advantage to those with children in that it can keep channels of communication open and lead the way to restoring a more amicable relationship which will mean the couple can communicate effectively and in the best interests of the children once the divorce is finalised. The traditional public mudslinging that can sometimes result from going to court can damage an already weak relationship to the point where it is irreparable. Not only can this have a negative impact on the divorcing couple, but on extended family and friends, and perhaps most importantly, the children of the relationship.

What are the alternative dispute resolution options?

Alternative Dispute Resolution doesn’t have a ‘one size fits all’ approach. Resolution, committed to non-confrontational divorce, recognises a number of options for couples who are splitting up, including a ‘do it yourself’ approach to agreeing the arrangements that will apply following divorce, mediation, arbitration, lawyer-led negotiations and collaborative law. Each type of alternative dispute resolution comes with its own advantages, and it’s open to the couple to choose the option that suits them best.

Arbitration, for example is where the couple appoint an arbitrator to hear evidence and consider the situation and to come to a decision about what should happen. This is similar to the court process – more so than some of the other forms of alternative dispute resolution. Compare this to mediation which is a flexible process whereby both attend an appointment with a mediator who will talk individually to each partner to identify the issues between them and help them identify solutions going forward. The mediator can’t impose an agreement on the couple – it is for the couple to try and reach a solution – but the presence of the mediator can encourage this. As the agreement is reached between the parties, the idea is that it will be more acceptable. It will then form the basis of a consent order. Perhaps the most radical form of alternative dispute resolution is collaborative law. Collaborative law will not suit every divorcing couple, but it can certainly help some couple achieve a better divorce – even a ‘good’ divorce. The process involves round the table discussions where both parties and their lawyers are present to discuss all the aspects of divorce that need to be agreed – legal, financial and practical – and looks to the future.

Why should I involve a lawyer?

It is possible to conclude a divorce and the associated agreements, for example in respect of finances and arrangements for the care of children, without the involvement of divorce law solicitors. For those that feel confident this is certainly an option and will keep costs to a minimum, but even for the legally confident, there are situations where it would be sensible to involve a lawyer. If you suspect your partner is concealing assets that should be included in the financial settlement – often the case in high net worth divorces, or your partner is not responding to correspondence on making unreasonable demands, it may be better to involve a solicitor.

If you have any worries about the divorce process, talking to a divorce lawyer you feel comfortable with will certainly ease the process, even if it involves increased legal fees. Obtaining the right advice as you navigate what is a difficult and stressful process will be a worthwhile investment.

OTS Solicitors offer a professional and sympathetic approach to divorce. As members of Resolution, our London top divorce lawyers will be happy to explain alternative dispute resolution and how it can help you in your divorce. To discuss your circumstances in confidence, please call 0203 959 9123.

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