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Using ADR to reach a final divorce order out of court

On Behalf of | May 16, 2024 | Divorce

Although divorce is often characterized as being a long, expensive, emotional and taxing process, this is not always the reality. While some divorcing spouses might require litigation to work through complex divorce or family law matters, many more can reach a final divorce order through alternative dispute resolution or ADR.

What is ADR?

Because it is not required that divorce issued be resolved in court, ADR can be used to settle your divorce. In simple terms, it is an informal process, and it could include various type of mechanisms to reach a final resolution. In essence, these mechanisms are forms of negotiations between you and your spouse and can include mediation, Collaborative Divorce or arbitration, among other things.


Mediation involves a neutral third party to facilitate the negotiation of the divorcing couple’s settlement. Often, this is an effective way to give each party time to communicate their thoughts, wishes and opinions. In turn, this could help give them the tools to communicate more effectively in the future. This process is considered both cost and time-efficient.

Collaborative Divorce

The negotiation process in a Collaborative Divorce differs from mediation, as each party must have their attorney involved. The process begins with the parties signing an agreement to not go to court. While this process resembles mediation, instead of a neutral party, it is a team of professionals trained in Collaborative Divorce that aid and move the process forward towards a settlement. While it may take longer or cost more than mediation, a collaborative process is often quicker than litigation and generally costs less.


Arbitration can look similar to mediation, however it is more structured and also has some likeness to litigation. Parties generally arbitrate with attorneys and start by agreeing on a neutral third party to serve as the arbitrator who will hear their case. Arbitration can function much like a trial, where each party makes an opening statement and presents evidence or witnesses for their arguments. It can also be structured like a mediation, where parties present their “side” in a more informal way.  Regardless of how the arbitration is structured, in the end, the arbitrator will make a ruling on the issues presented like a judge would do after a trial. In most cases, the arbitrator’s decision is then final, pending court approval.

ADR might be a familiar process or completely new to you; however, if you are going through a divorce, it is important to know that there are many processes available depending on a family’s needs.  If you’d like to learn more about these and other processes, contact our office for a consultation to discuss what may be right for you.