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Family Law Blog

Is Alternative Dispute Resolution an Option in Your PA Divorce?

Published: Jun 17, 2019 in Divorce, Legal Blog
Gavel and scale

Written by Anthony Piccirilli

When you contemplate divorce, you may imagine you and your spouse sitting on opposite sides of the courtroom. You may worry that you will be in and out of various hearings, letting your lawyers battle it out before the judge. A contentious divorce process is intimidating and exhausting, which is why our Pittsburgh divorce lawyers recommend our clients consider alternative dispute resolution (ADR). Divorce does not have to take place inside a courtroom. Spouses who are willing to work together and compromise can make decisions for their family outside of court, which can result in a more equitable and speedy resolution.

To talk with an attorney about your ADR options, contact Pittsburgh Divorce & Family Law, LLC at (412) 471-5100, or through our online form.

Alternative Dispute Resolution Options During Pennsylvania Divorce

When you or your spouse intend to file for divorce in Pennsylvania, there are several options you can consider before assuming you must go through a contentious, court-focused divorce process.

A Pittsburgh divorce lawyer can guide you through:

Collaborative Divorce

A collaborative divorce is a style of divorce that you and your spouse agree to at the beginning of the process. It is a method recognized and regulated by Pennsylvania law.

You, your spouse, your attorneys, and other professionals use group meetings to work out a comprehensive divorce settlement, which will address identifying and dividing marital property, spousal support, child custody, and child support. Many spouses utilize financial planners, tax accountants, counselors, and parenting coaches to help reach the best possible outcome.

During this process, you should work with an attorney who has experience in handling collaborative divorces. This ensures you have the best legal representation for the process.

This may be an option for you and your spouse if you will both be represented by lawyers, you are on good terms, and you are willing to compromise.

Mediation

Instead of going through a collaborative divorce, you may use mediation during the more traditional divorce process.

Mediation is a process during which you and your spouse meet with your lawyers and a third-party mediator who guides the conversation. It enables you and your spouse to discuss and resolve various aspects of the divorce. The mediator is not an advocate for either spouse, but helps both of you communicate and reach resolutions for various issues.

Mediation can be used for one or several elements of a divorce. For example, it is common for spouses to use mediation to determine a child custody schedule out of court. The process can take one or several meetings with a mediator.

This may be right for you and your spouse if there are certain issues you are willing to compromise on, but there are other issues that you may need a judge’s intervention.

Arbitration

Another way to handle your divorce outside of the courtroom is through arbitration. Instead of resolving the various divorce issues through collaboration or mediation, you and your spouse may present your arguments to a neutral third party who then makes a decision, similar to a judge.

While an arbitration hearing is similar to a trial, it is less formal. It is a more streamlined process, which can allow for a quicker and more cost-effective divorce process.

You and your spouse can agree to binding or non-binding arbitration. In binding arbitration, you and your spouse are required to follow the arbiter’s decision. Only child custody decisions can be overturned by the court. In non-binding arbitration, you can appeal the decisions in court.

Arbitration may be a good option for you and your spouse if you wish to move through the divorce issues quickly and with less cost than a court-focused divorce process. Arbitration does not rely on a busy court schedule. Instead, you and your spouse can arrange for an arbitration hearing after you hire an arbitrator and can then receive a decision within a few months.

Contact a Pittsburgh Divorce Lawyer Today

If you are interested in avoiding a long, contentious divorce in court, you should speak with our attorneys at Pittsburgh Divorce & Family Law, LLC about different alternative dispute resolution methods and whether any of these methods are appropriate in your situation.

To schedule a consultation, contact us at (412) 471-5100, or submit your information through our online form.