Traditional divorce is litigated. In practical terms, that means a courtroom, a potentially acrimonious dispute and the idea of “winners” and “losers.” While litigation is necessary in some cases, it is not the best option in other cases. Thankfully, there are other options here in Montana and elsewhere around the country.
In today’s post, we’ll discuss two litigation alternatives that our firm is ready to help you with. They include mediation and settlement conferences.
What these methods entail
As we explain on our website, mediation is a face-to-face negotiation facilitated by a neutral third party. The mediator’s job is not (and cannot be) to make decisions for the couple or take sides. Rather, his job is to keep negotiations going until the couple can reach decisions together. No additional lawyers need be present, but each spouse has the option of consulting with their own attorney during the process.
Settlement conferences are similar to mediation, but they remove face-to-face contact and more often involve the counsel of individual attorneys. Rather than meeting in the same room, each spouse is in a separate room and the settlement master moves between them. The topics in dispute will be narrowed and negotiated until agreement can be reached (or until negotiations prove unsuccessful). Each spouse is typically working with an attorney by their side.
The benefits of litigation alternatives
Compared to traditional litigated divorce, these alternative methods of dispute resolution often prove to be significantly:
- Less expensive
- Less hostile
- Better for the long-term working relationship of spouses that will likely soon be divorced coparents
- Less traumatic for children
These methods will not work for every couple (and some couples may not be interested in even trying). But if you believe that mediation or a settlement conference could be possible in your divorce, the benefits listed above definitely make them options worth exploring.