Understanding alternative dispute resolution

Many people know that if they have a legal dispute, it may require them to go to court to resolve it. They may not be aware, however, that there is another option available to them called alternative dispute resolution.

The alternative dispute resolution process occurs outside of court and helps the parties communicate to resolve their issues. It may be more time efficient and less expensive than going to court and is confidential.

Mediation and arbitration are the most commonly used types of alternative dispute resolution. It’s helpful to understand the differences between these options.


Mediation is a process where a neutral and impartial third party helps the parties communicate. This may be a good option in divorce and child custody disputes because it can help the parties find a way to resolve their concerns themselves.

When both parties agree on a resolution, the agreement is put in writing. If the parties cannot resolve the situation, they still have the option of going to court.


In an arbitration, an impartial arbitrator or a panel of arbitrators hear evidence and decide the outcome of the issue. The parties present testimony and supporting documents to the arbitrator.

Parties may want to consider using arbitration when there is a specialized issue that needs to be addressed. It can also be used to interpret contracts, settle claims and resolve other disputes.

The arbitrator’s decision can be enforced in court by either party.

Alternative dispute resolution may be an option parties want to consider, depending on the circumstances of their issue. An experienced attorney can provide guidance and help them determine if this process is right for them.

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