Every divorce is different. In some cases, you may want or need your divorce to go through a courtroom process. You may find it necessary to choose the courtroom process to fight for your assets and the best interests of your children (if you have them). But some couples choose alternative dispute resolution (ADR) to develop arrangements out of court. Two ADR modes are arbitration and mediation services.

Mediation is a process by which a neutral third-party, often a lawyer chosen by the divorcing spouses, facilitates divorce arrangements via negotiation between the spouses. Typically, parties may start with mediation but if parties reach an impasse, they can move on to arbitration.

Arbitration involves two parties, each with their own attorney, and an arbitrator, who may be a judge or an expert in the divorce matters at hand. The arbitrator will analyze the marital disputes and make decisions accordingly—just as a judge in a divorce court would make them.

Both arbitration and mediation have the potential to greatly benefit the divorce process, but your ability to take advantage of the benefits will depend on the circumstances surrounding your divorce.

The benefits of ADR

  • Time – It will likely be no surprise to you that some divorces are heavy in conflict. However, ex-spouses who believe they can come to agreements may save time by choosing mediation and therefore avoiding the often lengthy process of a divorce court.
  • Money – Mediation and arbitration are also cheaper for both parties, but this is particularly the case for mediation as it simply involves the two parties and the mediator and therefore results in a financially more efficient endeavor. And with no time spent in court, you may find that you pay less than the expected legal fees.
  • Control – Another great benefit of using ADR for a divorce is that it often allows for divorcing spouses to have more control over their arrangements. When it comes to those with children, ex-spouses may find that mediation provides them opportunities to best discuss these matters.
  • Privacy – Finally, a divorce trial can be a very public event, but mediation will help keep your family matters private throughout the process. Arbitration has its privacy perks as well. However, the divorce decree following arbitration will be made public.

Of course, ADR processes are not for every divorce. Even in situations where ex-spouses get along during the process, complications can arise and so may the need for litigation. That said, ADR—particularly mediation—can be a great option for divorcing parties who are seeking a relatively painless and cost-efficient end to their marriage.