While some situations call for litigating a divorce in open court, parties who prefer a more private setting or want greater control over the outcome often look to Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). Depending on each party’s situation and preferences, ADR may involve mediation, collaborative divorce, or arbitration.
Mediation allows parties to settle disputes with the help of a neutral third-party mediator in a private setting rather than in court. This has become the choice for a growing number of parties as it offers:
- Privacy and confidentiality – Because discussions take place in private instead of in open court, there are no public filings. Information disclosed regarding family, assets, and business interests remain confidential.
- Control – In litigation, a judge interacts primarily with the lawyers, determines when the parties will appear in court, and may only have a few minutes to review each case before ruling. In mediation, the parties control decisions about the timing of the resolution, based on what is best for them and their family.
- Creative solutions – A judge is bound by certain statutes on maintenance, child support, and other key decisions. However, with mediation the parties can address these issues creatively in the way that is best for their family.
- Minimizing conflict – Litigation inherently pits each party against each other, which only fans the flames. In mediation, parties can still disagree – even vehemently – but the focus in on finding solutions that work for both spouses. When both spouses feel they were heard and that the outcome is balanced and unbiased, parenting and support agreements are more likely to be followed.
Collaborative divorce is a process based on the principles of mediation that uses an interdisciplinary team to reach customized outcomes. In addition to the spouses’ lawyers, other professionals may be involved as needed, such as a psychologist, financial planner, child specialist, or other specialist to provide information that can guide the parties’ decision-making process and help to craft a settlement that works. Many Berger Schatz attorneys are certified collaborative attorneys and fellows of the Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois.
Arbitration is similar to a private trial. Meetings take place in a private conference room with the same confidentiality as mediation. A trained arbitrator presides over the setting following a strict system of evidentiary and procedure rules. The arbitrator’s decision is binding, and there is no option for appeal.
Confidential, Experienced Guidance
Our experienced attorneys understand the variety of ADR options and procedures to help clients determine the path that will best address their personal, financial, and privacy needs.