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Examining the role of alternative dispute resolution in divorce

Texas couples who are seeking a divorce may be interested in alternatives to going through a long trial in order to resolve the end of a marriage. These alternative methods can help to save money and headache. While a trial is one way to decide the terms of a divorce, the time and expense of the process makes it difficult for many former couples to go through. For this reason, many divorces end in a settlement arrangement, rather than a judicial decision. Alternative dispute resolution methods such as mediatio, allow the divorcing spouses to decide how their divorce goes on their own terms. This occurs through voluntary negotiations with the help of a neutral mediator who leads the former couple through these negotiations on the various important matters.

These issues can include such things as child custody arrangements, spousal and child support, and property division. Not all divorcing couples will benefit from this process, however. Whether or not a mediation is successful depends on the degree that the two former spouses are willing to come to a settlement and how large the actual dispute over the issues is.

In some cases, arbitration is appropriate, though it is used much less than mediation in divorce. In arbitration, a single third-party arbitrator makes a decision on the divorce issues after hearing arguments, similar to a judge. However, an arbitration takes much less time than a trial and saves the couple money. The decision of the arbitrator is binding on the parties.

In complex or high-asset divorce cases, an attorney may be helpful. The attorney can lead a divorcing client through the complex property division and other issues that are part of the process.

Source: Findlaw, "Divorce and Out-of-Court Proceedings: Alternative Dispute Resolution ", December 03, 2014

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Bruce Turner

In addition to his law degree, Bruce Turner has a master's degree in tax law and is Board Certified in Commercial Real Estate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

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