Settlement, Mediation and Alternative Dispute Resolution

It should be no surprise that there is sound evidence that the emotional impact of getting a divorce can be profound, and may invoke a range of strong feelings. As a result, parties sometimes view divorce as a battle, where the goal is to “win” at all costs. In most cases, however, a careful analysis of the facts of your case and of the law that applies to those facts will lead to a predictable range of probable outcomes. An understanding of that range will form the basis for settling your case. Settling your case usually occurs through negotiations (between you and the opposing party, or between your respective attorneys), settlement conferences, or mediation. This is sometimes called "Alternative Dispute Resolution."

Even if there are genuine disputes about important issues in the possible range of outcomes, resolving family law issues through settlement is most often in your best interest. Going to trial is expensive. A trial inevitably increases conflict between the parties, which is particularly problematic when children’s issues are litigated. Further, no matter how well your case is presented, ultimately, a stranger (the trial court judge) will make decisions about your life, and you will have to live with those decisions. Decisions of a trial court judge can also be appealed if either party is dissatisfied, which can escalate costs and attorney fees, and delay the final resolution of your issues.

If you, your spouse, and your spouse’s lawyer are committed to resolving your case, even if there are serious disagreements, they can usually be resolved with the assistance of a skilled mediator, who is usually an experienced lawyer or retired judge. Resolving disputes in mediation gives each party a degree of control in the outcome that is not present in a trial.

Peter works diligently with his clients to help achieve a fair settlement. Peter will help you understand the settlement process, and will help prepare you to understand the issues that you will need to resolve, as well as the range in which you are willing to settle those issues.

Even if a case is settled, one party may be dissatisfied, or there may have been a substantial error in the formation of the settlement agreement. There is a body of case law that governs the enforcement of settlement agreements and setting them aside. Peter has represented clients in both situations, and has taught a continuing legal education seminar on the enforcement of settlement agreements.

See the links page of this website for additional information on settlement.

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