Never heard of alternative dispute resolution? Not sure what it means, or how it could help you during your divorce? We break it down for you!
What Is It?
Alternative dispute resolution, from a legal perspective, is simply the use of methods like mediation and arbitration, instead of litigation, to resolve problems between parties. In other words, it refers to the ways in which people can come to some kind of agreement, without having to involve the court.
Michigan law defines alternative dispute resolution as being “any process designed to resolve a legal dispute in the place of court adjudication”.
Who Uses It?
There are many instances where alternative dispute resolution assists parties in working out a commonly acceptable result to a problem. Most commonly, this occurs between divorcing couples. However, it is also frequently used in resolving business partnership disputes, landlord/tenant disputes, collection and consumer disputes, civil and personal conflicts between individuals in a neighborhood.
What Types Are There?
There are four types of alternative dispute resolution available:
Mediation: In mediation, an impartial person called a “mediator” helps the disputing parties try to reach a mutually acceptable resolution. The mediator doesn’t decide what the outcome should be or how it should be dealt with, but helps the parties communicate thereby equipping them to successfully settle the dispute themselves.
Arbitration: In arbitration, a neutral person called an “arbitrator” listens to the arguments and evidence from both sides, then decides the outcome of the dispute. It is a less formal process than a trial, however, it still allows the final decision to be made by an outside party.
Negotiation: In negotiation, there is no third party present who facilitates the resolution process or imposes an outcome to the dispute. Both parties volunteer to discuss the dispute between themselves, possibly with the coaching of a friend or coworker, until they are able to agree on an outcome.
Collaboration: In collaboration, both parties retain an attorney who facilitates the resolution process within specifically contracted terms, one of which is that litigation is not an option. But while the process does not take place inside a courtroom, the process is formal and is considered to be a part of the litigation system.
The Michigan Office of Dispute Resolution
The Michigan Office of Dispute Resolution is tasked with overseeing the Community Dispute Resolution Program, which is a statewide network of nonprofit organizations that provide free or low-cost mediation to the public.
The courts in Michigan recognize that in many instances, parties are able to resolve their own disputes with the assistance of a trained mediator. More than 10,000 Michigan residents resolve their disputes through the use of a mediation service supported by the Community Dispute Resolution Program.
This has the benefit of allowing individuals the opportunity to work through a disagreement in a collaborative rather than adversarial setting, and without incurring the cost of an attorney or court fees. But it also removes cases from an already overbooked court docket, allowing the court to focus on issues that are perhaps, more difficult to resolve.
However, for many divorcing couples, alternative dispute resolution simply isn’t an option. There are too many complex issues that need to be addressed, or the relationship between spouses has deteriorated to the point where they cannot put aside differences and need help to work through the complexities of their divorce. This is where we come in.
At The Kronzek Firm, our highly skilled family law attorneys have been helping people with their divorces for decades. We have many years of experience, and understand the need for different approaches in different situations. Some divorces require aggressive tactics, while others need a calmer approach. Whatever your particular situation needs, we are here to help you through this difficult time. Call 517 866 1000 to talk to an experienced divorce attorney today.