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.

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