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A Brief Introduction to Alternative Dispute Resolution for Family Law

When it comes to family law, conflict is almost unavoidable. Even in the best of cases, emotions will run high, which can make it difficult to resolve all the different issues that need to be settled during a separation, divorce, custody dispute, or just about anything else. When most people think of family law, they picture going to court with an attorney to argue their case in front of a judge. While that is certainly necessary sometimes, most cases can actually be solved using alternative dispute resolution techniques.

These techniques are far faster and more effective, which makes them more affordable for the parties involved. Learning about the different alternative dispute resolution options available will help ensure your case is handled in the best way possible.

Collaborative Law

Collaborative law provides a structured environment where two parties (typically spouses, or ex-spouses) and their attorneys can work together to resolve a dispute. Rather than battling it out in court, everyone works together in an attempt to come to a solution that everyone can live with. Collaborative law is most often used in uncontested divorces, though it can also be effective in contested divorces if both parties can be reasonable.


Mediation brings in a third party (the mediator) to help resolve conflicts. Unlike other dispute resolution, this one relies on the fact that the mediator is unbiased. They are also trained to help deescalate emotional issues, and help people to remain focused on coming to a mutually beneficial agreement. The benefits include that this is a confidential process so family secrets or other issues won’t end up on the public record of the courts, it is voluntary, and it helps keep all the control in the hands of the people having the conflict.


Arbitration is similar in many ways to mediation, but the arbitrator is empowered by the courts to make binding decisions on the parties involved. This process is often compared to a court hearing, with the exception being that it is not a public setting and rather than having a judge, there is the arbitrator. Another difference is that the arbitration process is much faster, with fewer delays than are often found in a courtroom. This is a great option for times when finding agreements can be difficult, but both parties want to get through their case as quickly and painlessly as possible.

Cooperative Parenting

Cooperative parenting, or co-parenting, is a process where both parents work hard to ensure they are always putting the children first. This starts by creating a parenting plan that allows each parent to spend as much time with the children as possible, and addresses situations where potential conflict could arise (such as holidays) ahead of time. Cooperative parenting is more than just ‘doing your best’ to put the kids first, it is taking concrete steps, typically with the help of your attorney, to make sure you have minimized conflict that could impact your children.

Contact Us

If you would like to learn more about alternative dispute resolution techniques, and how they can help you and your family, please don’t hesitate to contact The Law Offices of Adam Stein. We will be happy to discuss all your options, and work with you to determine which one is best for your situation.

6 Common Misconceptions About Pre & Post-Marital Agreements

The notion of a pre- or post-marital agreement can leave a bad taste in your mouth when you’re engaged, in love, and enthusiastic about the future. Many people view marriage as all about romance and a lifetime of happiness, and some couples see these agreements as suggestions that their relationship might not last ‘until death do us part.’

On the contrary. Just as businesses create contracts to clarify the details of their relationships, a couple can genuinely benefit from an agreement that establishes a strong foundation for their long-term partnership. A marriage involves children, high-value assets, and other features that will benefit from a carefully crafted plan.

Below is a list of five common misconceptions about pre- or post-marital agreements, the assumptions that create them, and the truth in each instance.

They Are Essentially Divorce Contracts

While it is true that these agreements address alimony, division of property, and other issues that arise after a marriage breaks down, they also clarify matters that may arise throughout the marriage, such as how you will buy and sell property or maintain your finances as a couple, thereby preventing future arguments. Additionally, they provide couples an opportunity to define the assets and debts which they are each bringing into the marriage to avoid future discord over marital versus separate property.

They Are Only For the Rich

These days, pre-nups and celebrity divorces make joint headlines, creating the impression that such agreements are only for people rich enough to own a private island. Pre- or post-marital agreements are not all about money, though. While they can -and should- address your financial situation as a couple, they also enable you and your fiancé/ée to reach an accord on important matters before you say ‘I do.’

They Evidence a Lack of Trust

This misconception suggests that marital agreements are turf wars: “We’re doing this so that you don’t get my stuff if we break up.” The fact is that even couples who trust each other 100% are going to have differing opinions on important matters like money, child-rearing, etc. Pre- and post-marital agreements help reveal and sort out these differences in advance, so that you and your fiancé/ée are on the same page as you move forward in your relationship.

They Are Unfair to One Spouse

This misconception stems from the assumption that pre- or post-marital agreements are intended to protect the wealthier partner’s assets if the marriage breaks down. In reality, Georgia courts will not uphold an agreement that is one-sided (in other words, unfair and unconscionable) in this manner.

They Are Not Enforceable

This one was true until 1982, when premarital agreements were viewed as contrary to public policy. That changed with Scherer v. Scherer, in which the Georgia Supreme Court ruled that couples could establish their rights prior to marriage as long as the following applied:

  • The agreement was not unconscionable
  • One spouse did not agree as a result of duress, fraud, mistake, or nondisclosure / misrepresentation of facts
  • The couple’s circumstances had not changed to the extent that enforcing the agreement is unfair and unreasonable

For your pre- or post-marital agreement to be enforceable, it must be fair and all necessary disclosures must have been made beforehand. This way, there are no surprises waiting and you are even closer to your fiancé/ée because you’ve shared so much and demonstrated that you are truly invested in the marriage.

Don’t let myths and misconceptions stand in your way of planning your future as a couple. For more information about drawing up a pre- or post-marital agreement in Georgia, contact the law office of Adam Stein today.