Alternative dispute resolution, or ADR, is a method of resolving conflicts without going to court. An attorney or another mediator acts as a neutral third party to help resolve your conflicts. Mediation and arbitration are both possible within ADR. The difference between the two is that a mediator tries to find solutions, while an arbitrator acts as an informal judge.

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Types of Alternative Dispute Resolution Include:

  • Mediation: A common method of ADR that involves an impartial third party mediator to help the two parties communicate their sides
  • Arbitration: Another popular type of ADR in which both parties agree on a third party arbitrator who will decide the binding or non-binding agreement
  • Mini-trial: A method often used in complex civil litigation where lawyers present a summary of the evidence and argument to neutral decision-makers. After this process, all decision-makers meet to discuss settlement
  • Summary jury trial: A trial held in court that's non-binding, jurors hear and deliberate arguments from both parties' lawyers. Mediation between the two parties commences afterward
  • Early neutral evaluation: Intended to encourage settlement, this form of ADR involves an impartial evaluator that hears arguments from both parties. The impartial evaluator lets the parties know potential outcomes if the case went to court

Do I Need Alternative Dispute Resolution?

If you want to settle a dispute without having to go to court, you can choose to go through ADR. Sometimes ADR is required by a judge before he will see your case. It’s most commonly used in cases regarding:
  • Divorce
  • Spousal and/or child support
  • Landlord/Tenant issues
  • Professional liability
  • Personal injury
  • Insurance

Alternative Dispute Resolution Advantages

The main advantage of ADR is a much smaller bill. Many lawyers charge by the hour, which adds up quickly during court proceedings. By going through negotiations, you cut down on attorney time and prices.

Using ADR gives you the chance to talk through the terms of your conflict, rather than have a judge be the final decision. Even if you do still end up going to court afterwards, the groundwork is already set, so the court process will likely be shorter and easier.

What Can I Expect from Alternative Dispute Resolution?

If you and the person you’re negotiating with can work out your terms with the help of a mediator or arbitrator, you’ve saved yourself some time and money by avoiding court. You may still need an attorney to help draw up documents and legalize the terms you decided on.

If you’re still unable to agree on terms or a settlement, you will likely end up in court where they will be decided by a judge.

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