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Alternative Dispute Resolution

Alternative Dispute Resolution, or ADR, is an innovation of recent years in Texas courts that is growing in popularity. This process seeks to bring the parties in any family law case, and their Austin ADR attorneys together an attempt to work out an agreement without the need for court intervention. In many Texas courts, including in Austin, some form of ADR is required before the Court will hear final orders in a case.

ADR can take several forms. One is the informal settlement agreement. This is a process where the parties meet with their Austin informal settlement agreement attorneys and after discussion, craft an agreement acceptable to both parties. This agreement will be reduced to writing and signed by the parties and their Austin family law attorneys, and a final order containing the agreed terms will be presented to the Court. This model works well in non-contested divorces, or divorces where the parties are able to communicate well and come to agreements.

Mediation is another very common form of ADR. Mediation is an attempt to come to an agreement on the issues in a divorce or SAPCR, with the aid of a licensed mediator. The parties and their Austin Mediation attorneys all meet and discuss the contested issues in a case, usually at a mediation center or law office. The meeting is usually conducted in separate rooms, with the mediator going back and forth between rooms with the offers and counter offers of the parties. If everyone comes to an agreement, that agreement is reduced to writing at the end of the mediation and signed by the parties and their Austin mediation attorneys and filed with the Court. If the parties are unable to come to an agreement, anything discussed in mediation remains confidential and cannot be introduced as evidence in Court. The mediator is also under the rule of confidentiality and cannot be called as a witness to the mediation. The agreed mediation settlement has the effect of a court order and is filed with the Court immediately. A formal and complete decree will be presented to the judge for signature at a later date, containing all of the provisions in the mediated settlement agreement. A successful mediation ends the case.

Many Austin Collaborative Law attorneys use the collaborative law model to assist parties in coming to an agreement in family law matters, bypassing the litigation process entirely. Call an Austin Collaborative Family Law attorney today to learn more about Collaborative Law.

The Court can also order parties to arbitration, wherein an arbiter hears evidence and makes a final decision that is binding on the Court. This is a way to reduce the costs of a trial but is not based on an agreement. Call an Austin Arbitration attorney today to find out which ADR process best suits your circumstances.

Benefits of Alternative Dispute Resolution

The advantages of ADR are many. The first and foremost is that you have a hand in crafting a document that will control a part of your life for years to come. It will set out a parenting plan that you devised on your own, customized for your particular circumstances. Property can be divided in a customized manner that would probably not happen in Court. In an ADR process, the two most knowledgeable people in the entire case—the parties--have the opportunity to divide the estate and provide for the children with scalpel-like precision. No one knows better what matters most to you. When left to the Court, a much less sensitive division is likely. ADR is also much more cost effective than going to court. Trials can take days and even weeks to conclude. The cost for attorney fees would be much greater than those charged for ADR. There is also an inherent risk in having a judge or jury make these decisions for you. You may lose something that matters greatly to you and be awarded something that does not. It will also be much easier to live with an order you agreed to than one imposed by the Court.

ADR is required in all family law cases prior to final hearing unless there are allegations of family violence. In cases of family violence, the Court may not order the parties to mediation.

At DiafiLaw, an experienced Austin ADR lawyer will explain and guide you through whatever ADR process suits your circumstances. If you want to discuss ADR as a way to resolve your case, call DiafiLaw for further information about the ADR process.