Arbitration is an adversarial process where a neutral arbitrator renders a decision, called an award, after there has been a presentation of evidence. Like a court trial, arbitration may include representation by counsel, pre-hearing discovery, written briefs, examination of witnesses and oral argument. Arbitration is not particularly well-suited to divorce and family disputes
Mediation is a very flexible process that can be effectively used at any time during the course of the dispute. The goal of mediation is to allow parties to reach agreements that meet the needs of both parties and their children without the financial and emotional cost of a court battle. Because the process is non-adversarial, there are numerous benefits over trial in addition to saving time and money. Mediation allows the parties to maintain relationships and offers the greatest opportunity for creative problem solving.
Collaborative divorce is a process in which you and your spouse negotiate an acceptable agreement with some professional help. You and your spouse each hire a specially trained collaborative attorney who advises and assists you in negotiating a settlement agreement. You meet separately with your own attorney and the four of you meet together on a regular basis. A collaborative divorce may also involve other professionals, such as child custody specialist or accountants.
Litigation / Traditional law
Litigation is the traditional divorce process. Both parties hire attorneys who provide legal advice and represent their client in negotiations and court hearings. This model is adversarial — each attorney advocates positions based on the personal wants, needs and viewpoints of his client. Rather than communicating directly with each other, the divorcing couple communicates mainly through their attorneys.
The process may involve the use of formal legal procedures known as “discovery,” to obtain financial and other relevant information. Discovery may include the use of depositions or subpoenas. A deposition is the testimony taken from a party before a court reporter. A subpoena is a court order for witnesses, documents, or materials that are believed to be relevant to the issues, to be presented to the court. During the litigation process each party may hire experts to support his/her position. These experts may include psychologists, real estate and personal property appraisers, business valuation specialists, accountants and others.
Most divorces that employ litigation are eventually settled, but substantial time, money and emotion will be spent. Unfortunately, in the future many parties find they are dissatisfied with the outcome which means they may have to revisit the court to change the Divorce Judgment or to resolve disputes.