Alternative dispute resolution provides for flexibility, creativity, and reduced conflict in designing solutions
Alternative Dispute Resolution, usually referred to as ADR, is the collective term for the ways that parties can settle disputes with the help of an independent third party and without the need for a formal court hearing. All of the attorneys in our ADR Group have substantial experience representing clients in adversarial situations. We have attorneys skilled in resolving disputes in the following areas:
- Family law,
- Probate and trust litigation,
- Eminent domain and condemnation cases, and
- Commercial litigation and business disputes.
Mediation is a leading alternative to litigation for resolving legal conflicts and disputes. The unique feature of mediation is the involvement of an objective, neutral professional, who serves as a “mediator” between two (or more) sides or parties. A mediator seeks to understand each party’s goals and interests, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of each party’s case. The mediator then works with the parties (and their attorneys, if represented) to communicate and negotiate, and to develop alternative proposals and solutions, in order to reach a mutually acceptable resolution of the dispute.
Mediation is intended to assist parties in solving conflict cooperatively, as compared to the more adversarial process of litigation, providing the benefits of preserving relationships and reducing stress and conflict. In mediation, the parties themselves, rather than a judge, control any agreement that is reached. Mediation also provides room for far greater flexibility, creativity, and detail in designing solutions, since it is not constrained by the same restrictions that a judge must follow in entering orders and judgments.
Mediation may be agreed to by the parties or ordered by the court. Depending on the nature and complexity of the issues involved, mediation may be scheduled for a single session (of a few hours or a full day) or several sessions. Mediation typically occurs in the mediator’s office. It often is possible to schedule mediation much more quickly than a case may be set for trial on a court’s calendar, significantly expediting the resolution of conflict. In addition, although successful participation in mediation requires focused preparation, that preparation is usually less extensive and less costly than the preparation required for litigation, which typically involves witnesses, exhibits, and testimony in court.
Mediation is highly effective in helping parties to reach agreement. However, if an agreement is not reached, the parties may litigate their dispute. A mediator does not make decisions for the parties. All communication that occurs during the mediation is kept confidential and cannot be used in future litigation, so there is complete freedom to explore ideas and offer possible solutions.
Although many mediators also are attorneys, mediators cannot provide legal advice and are not a substitute for attorneys. The role of the mediator is to facilitate negotiation between the parties, not to advise or advocate for either party. Parties should consult with their own attorneys for an understanding of the law and their rights, responsibilities, opportunities, and risks.
Arbitration is a process in which a neutral third person arbitrator or an arbitration panel considers the facts and arguments presented by the parties and renders a decision. Each party submits their case materials to the arbitrator or to the arbitration panel chair at a hearing. Following the hearing, the arbitrator or arbitration panel chair files a written determination of the arbitration proceeding with the Court. If the parties have agreed to binding arbitration, the court enters judgment on the determination. If the parties agreed to non-binding arbitration, the parties have an opportunity to file a response to the arbitration determination. If a nonbinding determination is not rejected, the determination is entered by the court as judgment or as a joint stipulation. If the nonbinding determination is rejected, all evidence is returned to the parties and all acceptances and rejections are sealed and placed in the case file. The matter would then proceed to trial.
Collaborative practice (sometimes called “collaborative divorce” or “collaborative law”) is an approach for resolving divorce and other family legal issues that empowers the parties to work with one another through a respectful process of negotiation, rather than through the courts, to make decisions about their futures. Divorce (and other family legal conflict) is one of the most difficult and significant life transitions that most people ever will experience. As a result, collaborative practice provides comprehensive and holistic guidance and support.
Throughout the entire process, each client receives legal advice and guidance from his or her own attorney. In addition, the clients and their attorneys have access to a team of qualified professionals who assist clients in addressing the entire range of legal, financial, and emotional issues that are present in divorce and other family conflict. In this way, clients receive the full array of expertise that they need from the professionals most qualified to provide it, and are able to manage their costs efficiently.
The following basic principles guide each collaborative case:
- Promise not to go to court,
- Voluntary and informal exchange of information, and
- Commitment to communicate respectfully and to negotiate in good faith.
At every stage the specially trained and qualified collaborative team ensures that clients’ values are honored and their interests are achieved. While the collaborative approach requires hard work and asks clients to be their best selves, at the conclusion clients choosing it frequently feel more satisfied and positive—both about themselves, as well as the other person—than clients who have experienced other processes.
Collaborative practice is a good fit for a wide variety of individuals who want to:
- Reduce the harmful effects of conflict for themselves and their children;
- Maintain their privacy;
- Work with their spouse or other party to reach a lasting agreement that addresses both people’s interests;
- Honor their values of peace, dignity, and integrity;
- Seek assistance in learning how to parent together effectively in the future;
- Avoid the potential high costs of litigation;
- Have control over the pace of the process;
- Achieve creative solutions to their unique circumstances.
Leaders in collaborative divorce
Mallor Grodner attorneys were instrumental in introducing collaborative practice in Indiana, including sponsoring the first collaborative training program for professionals and being among the first Indiana attorneys to offer collaborative practice as an alternative to their clients. Mallor Grodner attorneys are recognized internationally as leaders in collaborative practice and are committed to offering the highest quality collaborative experience to our clients.
Experienced Bloomington and Indianapolis
family law and civil mediators
Mallor Grodner is proud to be home to several of Indiana’s most skilled, experienced, and sought-after mediators. Mallor Grodner mediators include pioneers in the field and are able to draw on extensive knowledge from their prominent civil and family law practices. Mallor Grodner offers mediation clients the highest level of attention, expertise, and creativity in crafting solutions to their legal conflicts.
Contact our Bloomington or Indianapolis office mediators and collaborative practice attorneys to learn more about ADR and if this may be the best option for your unique situation. Contact our Bloomington office at 812.332.5000 and our Indianapolis location at 317.453.2000.