13 Mar Alternate Dispute Resolution
Statistics indicate that only a small percentage of legal cases actually end up going to trial. Mediation, Collaborative Law and Arbitration are methods of Alternative Dispute Resolution that allow individuals to settle their cases outside of court. Attorneys at Mitchell Law Group are huge advocates of these methods as we believe it is generally better for the parties to resolve matters outside of court and in an environment which allows them to determine the terms of their case and prioritize what issues are most important to them.
Mediation is a popular process that allows parties to utilize the help of a third party neutral, generally an experienced family law attorney, to negotiate the terms of their divorce, custody, parenting time, property division and/or other contested matters. Generally, each party is present with his/her respective attorney and each party meets with the mediator separately to negotiate and facilitate an agreement. Any agreement signed at mediation is filed with the court, made an order and is binding upon the parties. The mediation process takes place in a confidential setting, and if the parties are not able to reach an agreement, the discussions at mediation normally cannot be disclosed in court. It is now common for local courts to order that parties attend mediation before attending any final hearings.
Collaborative law, also known as cooperative law, is a form of dispute resolution that has been used in the United States since 1991. At present, collaborative law is not widely utilized in Indiana; however, it is gaining recognition and support, and is offered by some attorneys to clients under the condition that an agreement between the parties will be reached from the outset. Both attorneys are hired with this being the main goal. If an agreement cannot be reached, the attorneys may not continue to represent their clients at a subsequent hearing regarding their family law matter. Collaborative law takes the adversarial nature out of the family law case. It provides a more holistic approach to reaching resolution by incorporating other professionals (financial, mental health, valuators, etc.) that are all working together for the benefit of both parties. Mitchell and Associate attorney, Gloria Mitchell, is trained in collaborative law and finds this to be an excellent approach in family law cases. She has lead seminars on collaborative law to encourage the legal community to adopt this method in order to make it a more widely practiced alternative in Indiana.
The arbitration process employs a neutral third person or panel, called an arbitrator or arbitration panel, to consider each parties arguments in an informal and private setting. The arbitrator will then make a conclusion taking into consideration Indiana law and the facts of the case. The arbitrator provides their conclusion to the court, and the court will then generally enter a final judgment based on the arbitrator’s recommendations. The arbitration process differs from the mediation process in that in arbitration the parties are allowing a third party to make a decision, versus in mediation the third party is helping to assist the parties in reaching an agreement.
The attorneys at Mitchell Law Group will be able to advise you, based on your situation, whether any of the above methods of alternative dispute resolution would be in your best interests and beneficial to your case.
As with all other information contained on this website, this information should not be considered legal advice and you should seek advice from an attorney. Appointments may be arranged to discuss your situation with our attorneys but no advice may be given by initial phone or email contact.