What Is ADR Or Alternative Dispute Resolution?
There are instances where parties involved in a legal dispute do not want to go to the court. There are several methods that can be used to solve legal disputes out of the court. These methods are termed alternative dispute resolution. There are businesses and individuals who want to avoid costly litigations. There are other reasons as well. Civil courts have a large backlog of old cases. It can take almost a year or more before a jury hears a case. Due to these problems, other alternative proceedings have been devised to make legal dispute settlements easier, inexpensive and less time-consuming. These options include mediation, arbitration, and other ADR methods. Such options are used in bankruptcy cases as well.
Arbitration is similar to a trial whereas evidence can be presented, witnesses can be called and each party can argue their case. In some areas, the court may ask civil litigants to try arbitration first if the claim does not exceed a certain amount. The purpose is to free the court of unimportant cases so more complicated cases can be heard properly. Sometimes local courts allow the litigants to present their case for arbitration irrespective of the amount involved. The parties involved in the case can agree beforehand whether they will comply or not comply with the arbitration result. If they choose non-binding arbitration, a new trial can be requested by the losing party.
The job of an arbitrator is given to a local well-established attorney. The professional is appointed by the court and acts like a judge at the hearings. The person looks at the evidence and hears responses of both parties before delivering a final decision. The parties involved in the dispute may be given some leeway in the selection process of the arbitrator. They can choose to strike potential arbitrator if they have prior dealings with that professional.
After the case goes to the arbitration, a conference is arranged by phone or in person at the office of the arbitrator. Similar to civil court pre-trial conference, this is the time for the parties involved in the case to present their overview of the case to the arbitrator. They can discuss evidentiary issues before the hearing for the arbitration starts. On the hearing date, parties involved in the case meet in an empty courthouse room or in the arbitrator’s office. It can take several hours for both parties to present their side of the case. The arbitrator can deliver the decision immediately or decide to go for advisement whereas a written decision is delivered at a later date within a few weeks time.
This process is quite different from the ADR proceeding. There is no adversarial hearing and there is no official to take the final decision. Rather, parties involved in the case are required to meet at one place where a neutral facilitator helps them come to a resolution. The purpose is to help arrive at a voluntary settlement with the help of a mediator’s services. Litigation forces both parties and even attorneys to adopt adversarial behavior and action. Each party may have unrealistic expectations about the outcome. In such a case, mediation can prove helpful in arriving at a solution acceptable to both parties. It helps avoid going to the trial.
In the mediation process, both parties and the mediator come together in a room. Both parties present their case in front of the mediator. They come up with facts, figures, and arguments in favor of their claim. Thereafter, both parties go into separate rooms. The mediator goes to the room of one party and listens to their settlement offers. Then the mediator goes to the room of the other party and relays the settlement offer and receives their responses. The responses and offers are relayed back again to the first party. During this back-and-forth mediation process, the mediator provides personal thoughts, opinions, and suggestions to each party. The idea is to let both parties arrive at a final settlement offer so that the case is resolved amicably.
Specialist Evaluation and Collaborative Divorce Cases
A divorce case has a good potential of turning into a bitterly contested legal dispute. A collaborative approach is used so that both parties can come over their “win or lose” mentality. During this process, attorneys for both spouses keep representing them. Depending on the requirements, some financial professionals, family counselors, and other professionals are brought into the negotiation. Several group sessions are held to discuss the case and reach an agreement on issues such as child custody, alimony, division of property and visitation rights.
Alternative dispute resolution can be an evaluation and mediation process. Legal professionals having specialized training and experience in a particular field may oversee the proceeding. For example, if there is a lawsuit about construction issue, both parties may present their case in front of a neutral person who is both a lawyer and an architect. Compared to a judge or jury, an attorney with an architect qualification will have a better knowledge of construction techniques. Such a person as neutral mediator will be more acceptable to both parties.
ADR Cases in Atlanta Represented by Bankruptcy Lawyer Keith Cornwell
ADR is a good solution if you want to shorten the litigation process. Irrespective of what type of ADR solution you choose, you will need services of a competent legal professional who will help you protect your interests. Call Atlanta bankruptcy attorney Keith Cornwell now if you plan to resolve your case out of the court.