Helping Families Find Peaceful Resolutions
The term “alternative dispute resolution” refers to processes that parties involved in a family law dispute (including divorce, child custody and spousal support issues) can employ to avoid court intervention. The most common alternative dispute resolution methods are mediation, arbitration and early neutral evaluation.
Mediation is a confidential process in which the parties employ a neutral third party to assist them in coming to an agreement on their outstanding issues. A mediator does not represent either party and cannot provide legal advice to either party. A mediator may not draft a court order for the parties based on their negotiated settlement but will draft a memorandum of understanding containing all agreements reached at the mediation.
Arbitration is a process in which the parties agree to submit their dispute to a neutral third party for a binding or nonbinding decision. In some ways, arbitration is like a trial, although much less formal. The parties involved are able to submit evidence supporting their position. Once evidence is presented, the arbitrator will make a decision based on the review of both parties' materials. The arbitrator's decision may be binding or nonbinding depending on the parties' agreement. In some cases, the parties may choose to seek the services of a mediator to facilitate a resolution of their issues and decide that the same neutral will arbitrate those issues if a resolution is not reached.
Understanding Early Neutral Evaluation
Early neutral evaluation is a confidential process in which the parties agree to present their case to a qualified neutral, or in some cases a team of qualified neutrals, to provide an evaluated opinion regarding the likely outcome of their disputed issues if they were to seek court intervention. After an evaluated opinion is given, the parties may negotiate a resolution with the assistance of the evaluator.
Find Out If Alternative Dispute Resolution Is Right For You
Bill Casey is a qualified neutral under Minnesota Rules of Court 114 and has experience as a mediator, arbitrator and neutral evaluator.