The majority of cases settle without going to trial or hearing with a judicial officer.
Knowing your options to litigation is very helpful.
Many cases are resolved through "alternative dispute resolution" options, such as mediation, arbitration, and private judges. While most of these options create an additional expense, it can often be less expensive than proceeding to litigation.
Basically, a neutral trained mediator attempts to assist the parties in reaching an agreement. In family law cases, the parties and their attorneys are in separate rooms with the mediator traveling between them. The mediator cannot make a final decision for you. Most counties require mediation before a contested hearing. Many cases are resolved in mediation. Several of our attorneys are trained mediators.
A Decision is made
In an arbitration, the person appointed as the arbiter makes the final decision. It is a less formal process than a trial; however the parties and witnesses still testify and evidence is still presented. Sometimes, the parties will submit to mediation/arbitration, where mediation is attempted first and if a resolution is not reached, the mediator becomes the arbiter and makes the final decision.
Replaces the Judge
This person has to meet certain requirements, including being a former judicial officer to be appointed a private judge. This person actually replaces the judicial officer assigned to your case and has all of the same powers and authority. Sometimes this is preferable to using an arbiter including that appellate procedures are different.
Another REsolution tool
Collaborative law (with a capital "C") is a specific way to handle a case wherein the parties and their attorneys enter into an agreement on the process. Some of our attorneys are Collaboratively trained. This is not to be confused with collaborative law, which is attempting to reach an amicable resolution in all cases, something all of our attorneys strive to achieve.