Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) in California Dissolution Cases

Lengthy child custody and visitation cases often drain your financial and emotional resources and have long-term effects on the children involved. Before tackling this very difficult issue, seek the advice and guidance of a California family law attorney well versed in child custody and visitation law.

Thank you for contacting The Law Office of Heather Cullen, A Professional Corporation. Your message has been sent.

Call us now

or use the form below.

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) in California Dissolution Cases

In California, parties wishing to lessen conflict and work toward more win-win solutions to their disputes can take advantage of many modes of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), including, conciliation court (in larger counties), mediation and collaborative law.

Conciliation courts

California was one of the first states to establish conciliation courts. The purpose of a conciliation court is to encourage families to attempt reconciliation and reduce litigation in family law cases. In California counties with conciliation courts, parties may petition the court for help in resolving disputed family law matters prior to, or even after, filing an action for dissolution. While the matter is under advisement by the conciliation court, neither party may file an action for dissolution without permission of the court.

Mediation

In situations where child custody and visitation are in dispute, California law requires the parties address disputed custody and visitation issues through mediation. Mediation is a process in which the disputing parties meet with a neutral third person, a mediator, who works with them to resolve the issues so that further litigation is unnecessary. Although not every case is resolved in mediation, many cases are. In nearly all cases, parties are able to resolve at least some of the disputed issues.

Collaborative law

In the early 1990s, Stu Webb, a Minnesota family law attorney, became frustrated by the disastrous effects the adversarial model had on all parties, including the attorneys, involved in family law matters. He determined there had to be a better way, a way to end the discord of the traditional method of dissolving a marriage. Together with a group of family law attorneys, Mr. Webb developed a process that depends on a commitment by the parties and their attorneys that they will not go to court.

The defining feature of collaborative law is that the parties and their attorneys enter into a stipulation at the outset of a case, including agreements for informal discovery, open exchange of ideas, a commitment to the process, and most importantly, an agreement that they will not go to court. The parties and attorneys agree that if not able to settle all of the issues in the case when a party decides to take the matter to court, both attorneys must withdraw from the case. The agreement also typically includes a stipulation that documents prepared during the process are inadmissible in court unless both parties agree. Thus, if the process does fail, the parties essentially start anew.

Proponents of a collaborative law process tout that the advantages of using it are substantial. First, most collaborative law cases are significantly less expensive than if pursued through traditional litigation. Second, collaborative cases often take less time than adversarial cases. Finally, an atmosphere of cooperation, rather than conflict, allows the parties involved to focus on the real issues rather than destroying each other, thus ending the process more amicably than they ordinarily might.

However, collaborative law is not foolproof. The biggest disadvantage is the extra cost involved if the process fails and the parties must hire new attorneys. The process may also be abused by a party feigning interest in collaboration, only to take advantage of open discovery.

Learn more about ADR in California dissolution cases

A California lawyer with experience in alternative dispute resolution, including collaborative law, mediation or conciliation court will discuss these options with you. Contact the experienced attorneys at The Law Office of Heather Cullen, A ProfessionalCorporation in Riverside today.

Copyright © 2017 FindLaw, part of Thomson Reuters

DISCLAIMER: This site and any information contained herein are intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.

Back to Main