Alternative dispute resolution

Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) refers to a variety of methods for resolving disagreements without going to court. Mediation, arbitration, and neutral evaluation are examples of ADR methods. Unlike typical court sessions, these procedures are often more private, less official, and less stressful.

ADR frequently saves money and expedites the settlement process. Parties have a vital role in settling their own conflicts through mediation. This frequently leads to innovative ideas, long-term results, increased satisfaction, and enhanced relationships.
In family law, general civil, and commercial law issues, the New York State Unified Court System provides free or reduced-fee mediation and other ADR services. These services are offered in virtually all of New York State’s 62 counties, as well as numerous courthouses and Community Dispute Resolution Centers.
Arbitration: a neutral person known as a “arbitrator” hears both sides’ arguments and evidence before making a decision. The rules of evidence are typically modified in arbitration, making it less formal than a trial. Parties agree to accept the arbitrator’s judgement as final in binding arbitration, and there is usually no right of appeal. If the parties do not accept the arbitrator’s ruling in nonbinding arbitration, they may request a trial.

Collaborative Law is a problem-solving technique that allows divorcing couples and their lawyers to dissolve marriages and reconstruct families without the stress, delay, and expense of traditional litigation. Three elements underpin collaborative law:

  1. A promise not to fight issues in court;
  2. an honest, voluntary, quick, and good-faith exchange of pertinent facts without formal discovery; and
  3. a commitment to seek solutions that include both parties’ and their children’s greatest objectives. Despite their shared dedication to collaborative law concepts, each lawyer has a professional responsibility to zealously represent his or her own client and is not the counsel for the other party.

Mediation: In mediation, a neutral third party known as a “mediator” assists the parties in attempting to obtain a mutually agreeable resolution of the conflict. The mediator does not make a decision in the case; instead, he or she assists the parties in communicating so that they can try to resolve the conflict on their own. Mediation can be especially beneficial when family members are involved. If one side has a major advantage in power or influence over the other, mediation may not be acceptable. To learn more about mediation, click here.

In order to facilitate settlement, a neutral person with subject-matter experience hears abridged arguments, assesses the strengths and weaknesses of each side’s case, and provides an assessment of potential court outcomes. With the parties’ permission, the neutral evaluator may also give case planning advice and settlement aid.

PC stands for Parenting Coordination, which is a child-centered procedure in which a qualified and experienced mental health or legal expert known as a “parenting coordinator” aids high-conflict parents in carrying out their parenting plan. The parenting coordinator may make decisions within the scope of the court order with the parties’ and the court’s previous consent.
Parent Coordination’s goal is to assist parents in resolving child-related problems in a timely manner while also attempting to create safe, healthy, and meaningful parent-child interactions.

Restorative Justice is a process in which stakeholders identify and address the effects, needs, and duties of an incidence of damage or other conflict, and form an action plan to move forward.

Settlement Conferencing: Before going to trial, a court or a judge’s representative meets with the parties and their lawyers to try to resolve some or all of the points in dispute. The parties’ involvement is restricted, and the emphasis is on limiting the issues at hand.
A court appoints a Special Master to carry out some form of action on its behalf. This might entail managing discovery concerns, conferencing cases, or post-judgment action.

Summary Jury Trials (SJT): In this adversarial dispute resolution method, each party presents their case to the jury in a condensed manner. The jury then offers a recommendation, which is simply advisory unless the parties want a binding ruling. A summary jury trial provides parties a sneak peek at what they could get if the matter goes to trial. SJTs are only accessible in a few states.
Advantage and disadvantages of ADR[
• Suitable for multi-party disputes
• Lower costs, in many cases it’s free when involving consumers
• Likelihood and speed of settlements
• Flexibility of process
• Parties’ control of process
• Parties’ choice of forum
• Practical solutions
• Wider range of issues can be considered
• Shared future interests may be protected
• Confidentiality
• Risk management
• Generally no need for lawyers
• Can be a less confrontational alternative to the court system
However, ADR is less suitable than litigation when there is:
• A need for precedent
• A need for court orders
• A need for interim orders
• A need for evidential rules
• A need for enforcement
• Power imbalance between parties
• Quasi-criminal allegations
• Complexity in the case
• The need for live evidence or analysis of complex evidence
• The need for expert evidence