Mediation & Arbitration
Attorneys at the law firm of Rotole, Rotole & Blanchard, L.L.C. frequently utilize mediation and arbitration as alternatives to litigation to successfully resolve issues in a divorce or other family law matter on behalf of clients throughout the Denver Metropolitan Area.
In the area of family law, and particularly when dealing with divorce issues, preserving a relationship between the parties is often vital to a successful outcome. In most cases, former spouses will continue to have contact with one another for years to come, especially if the marriage produced any children. Even an amicable breakup can be poisoned by bitter, divisive, and protracted litigation. Mediation and arbitration are two popular methods of alternative dispute resolution that focus on preserving the relationship as part of a successful outcome.
What is Mediation?
Mediation is an informal method of dispute resolution whereby the parties create their own solution, rather than having major issues such as property division, maintenance, child custody and child support decided by a judge following an adversarial hearing. Rather than viewing one another as adversaries, the spouses work together collaboratively to fashion a result that meets both of their needs.
A mediation is facilitated by a trained mediator, who may be a lawyer or judge. The mediator will not impose any solutions but will help the parties work together and defuse any confrontations that arise. Mediation is a voluntary process. If a satisfactory solution is not found, the parties are free to proceed to court. This is seen by some as a weakness in mediation, while to others it is a strength that incentivizes the parties to compromise and reach an agreement to avoid a costly and lengthy legal battle.
What is Arbitration?
An arbitration may be considered halfway between mediation and litigation. It is less formal than a trial, and the laws of evidence and court procedure do not apply. Yet the parties are presenting their case to the arbitrator rather than working directly with each other as in a mediation, and the arbitrator makes a decision based on what was presented. An arbitration may be binding or non-binding on the parties. In family law, arbitration is usually non-binding, and the arbitration decision is more of an advisory opinion to the parties, letting them know the likely outcome if they go to court, and prompting further negotiations and hopefully a compromise.
Do I need an attorney to represent me in mediation or arbitration?
Even though the mediator or arbitrator is often (though not always) an attorney, the person in that role is neutral to both parties and cannot offer legal advice to one side or the other. At times, the mediator or arbitrator may voice an opinion on the merits of a position or the likely outcome of a lawsuit, but this is not professional legal advice and is certainly not advocacy. Since an arbitration is similar to a trial and legal arguments are usually made, each side is most often represented by an attorney. Even in a mediation, it is helpful to have attorneys who can either speak for the parties or provide valuable advice and consultation.
At Rotole, Rotole & Blanchard, L.L.C., our family law attorneys have a wealth of experience in both mediation and arbitration in divorces involving complex issues of parental responsibility, maintenance, child support, and property distribution. For advice or representation in a family law mediation or arbitration in the Denver Metropolitan Area, contact Rotole, Rotole & Blanchard, L.L.C.