Delaware Family Law and Commercial Attorney. Leslie focuses her practice on family law along with commercial and corporate litigation. In her family law practice, Leslie assists clients with divorce, adoptions, child support...Read More by Author
Alternate Dispute Resolution: Is this an Option for My Divorce?
In today’s economy, many litigants are searching for a kinder, gentler way to resolve divorce matters. One way to ease the burden may be through Alternate Dispute Resolution (“ADR”). Family Court Civil Rule 16.1 provides parties to a divorce with the opportunity to resolve their financial disputes through ADR. Specifically, Rule 16.1 permits divorcing parties to engage in arbitration, mediation or neutral case assessment. As described in the Rule,
- “Arbitration” is a process by which a neutral arbitrator hears both sides of a controversy and renders a fair decision based on the facts and the law. If the parties stipulate in writing that the decision shall be binding, the case shall be removed from the Court’s docket.
- “Mediation” is a process by which a mediator facilitates the parties in reaching a mutually acceptable resolution of a controversy. It includes all contacts between the mediator and any party or parties until a resolution is agreed to, the parties discharge the mediator, or the mediator determines that the parties cannot agree.
- “Neutral case assessment” is a process by which an experienced neutral assessor gives a non-binding, reasoned oral or written evaluation of a controversy, on its merits, to the parties. The neutral assessor may use mediation and/or arbitration techniques to aid the parties in reaching a settlement.
ADR is not appropriate for every case. However, for some, ADR may provide significant benefits. For example, working with a neutral decision maker of their choice outside the court process may give the parties more control over the deadlines in the process. If successful, this can also save both time and money. Perhaps most significantly, engaging in ADR may reduce the stress level on the parties and their families.