Statistics indicate that only a small percentage of legal cases go to trial. Mediation and Collaborative Law are two methods of resolution that allow individuals to settle their cases outside of court. I advocate for these methods as it is demonstrably healthier and more cost-effective for parties to resolve matters outside the courtroom and in an environment that allows them to self-determine the terms of their divorce or case and prioritize the issues that are the 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 or “no court divorce”, 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 terms and conditions in place, and with the shared goal of reaching a complete resolution of your issues without taking the matter into a courtroom. 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 a resolution by incorporating other professionals (financial, mental health, valuators, etc.) that are all working together for the benefit of both parties. I am trained in collaborative law and find that in the right case, this can be the best approach in family law cases.
I 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.