When it comes to the most important things in your life, your children and financial security, you likely do not want a stranger deciding your future. When facing divorce, many people want to know what options they have other than litigation. There are many forms of alternative dispute resolution that can be utilized before or after one files a complaint for divorce in Ohio or a petition for dissolution in Kentucky. Many clients have heard terms such as mediation or collaboration, but do not know what they mean or how they can be used in their case.
Mediation is a very common form of alternative dispute resolution and is oftentimes ordered by the court in the divorce process. Mediation is when a neutral facilitator works with the parties to try to help them reach an agreement. The mediator does not have the authority to make decisions for the parties. Some courts offer mediation at the courthouse. Oftentimes those mediators are Magistrates. Mediation is confidential process and is a helpful tool to settle cases outside of court either prior to any divorce action being filed or after. The parties can attend mediation either with their attorney present or without. Either way, it’s important to prepare with your attorney before the mediation session.
A settlement conference is another popular method of alternative dispute resolution. A settlement conference is when both parties and their attorneys get together and try to work out an agreement. A third party neutral, such as an accountant or attorney for the best interests of the children, can make a settlement conference more effective. Like mediation, the parties can attend a settlement conference before or after an action for divorce is filed in order to resolve any outstanding issues.
Another popular option is Collaborative dissolution. The Collaborative model is a team process in which both parties work with their counsel and third party neutrals to come up with a resolution that serves the best interests of the family. For more information, visit our page on the Collaborative process.
Some courts in Ohio have started a process called Early Neutral Evaluation (ENE). In this process, the parties meet with a neutral third party and present information about their case. The evaluator is someone who has experience in family law, such as a family law Magistrate or social worker and they give an opinion to the parties about a likely outcome and the strengths and weaknesses of their case. The process is utilized after a complaint for divorce has been filed. It’s confidential and used to give the parties a realistic idea of what may happen in court.
The list above is a non-exhaustive list of confidential methods used to try to resolve issues related to your divorce outside of the courtroom. Many people going through a divorce would prefer to work to create a resolution instead of the court making the decision for you. If you are contemplating a divorce or dissolution, you should contact an attorney to discuss all of your options.
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