Conflict may be common in divorce, but the divorce itself does not have to be a fight. Whether you want to protect your relationship with your children or you simply want a more peaceful process, talking it out through alternative divorce resolution (ADR) may allow you to minimize the emotional and financial stress of your divorce.

What is ADR?

Most people are familiar with litigated divorces, where each spouse works with an attorney in court and a judge makes the final decision about their divorce agreement. ADR is, as its name would imply, an alternative to litigated divorce that can take different approaches:

  • Mediation—A neutral mediator helps guide you and your spouse through your divorce.
  • Arbitration—A third party arbitrator will hear you and your spouse speak, then makes a decision about your divorce.
  • Collaborative Divorce—This divorce process allows you and your spouse to choose your own attorneys as well as other experienced resources like financial advisers to find common ground and reach a compromise outside of court.

Alternate divorce options may not be right for everyone, however. In situations where one spouse is domineering or abusive, it can be difficult to find the common ground necessary to choose one of these alternate options.

Keeping your divorce out of the courts has many benefits.

While you may wish to speak to an attorney about which type of ADR is the best choice for your divorce, all types of ADR offer you specific benefits. The benefits of avoiding a litigated divorce can include:

  • Choice—Your divorce is extremely personal, and choosing a lawyer or mediator that you trust can be one of the best ways to find a solution that feels fair.
  • Privacy—ADR allows you to keep your divorce out of the courtroom. This can allow you to keep the details of your relationship, any personal challenges that contributed to them and the details of your finances out of public hearings and the media.
  • Flexibility—Your family is unique, and ADR offers you the chance to focus on the details that are most important to you.
  • Cost—As the New York Times notes, litigated divorces can be unpredictable, time-consuming and expensive, especially if you or your spouse are business owners or own high-value assets like real estate. Alternate divorce resolution could allow you to avoid some of those costs.

Avoiding courtroom conflict can also help you lay the groundwork for a more positive co-parenting relationship with your spouse in the future. By avoiding conflict now, you may find it easier to work together to create the best possible life for your children.

Ultimately, the choice of whether to use mediation, arbitration or a collaborative approach in your divorce depends on your life, your relationship with your soon-to-be-ex and the things that you value. Because of this, it can be useful to discuss your needs in divorce with a lawyer. Your attorney can help you negotiate your options and determine whether an alternate approach is right for you.