Deciding to end your marriage is never simple, especially when you know how difficult the process can be. Luckily, there are alternative methods to divorce litigation that separating couples can use to avoid going to court constantly. Alternative dispute resolution may be right for you if you’re looking for a more constructive way to make important decisions regarding your divorce.

The following is everything you and your spouse might want to know about alternative dispute resolution and how it may be able to help you and your spouse through your divorce.

What Is Alternative Dispute Resolution?

Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is a term used to describe alternative methods that are used instead of litigation in a divorce. Divorce litigation is the most common method used when couples separate because there are often conflicts and disagreements that need to be resolved by a neutral third party, I.e., the judge. However, there are alternative dispute resolutions for spouses that feel they may be able to reach amicable decisions outside of court.

The main types of alternative dispute resolution include the following:

  1. Mediation

    Mediation is a route many separating couples choose to take so that they can work in a constructive, comfortable environment with a neutral third party to assist in their agreements. Unlike litigation, divorce mediation happens outside of court and with the help of a professional mediator who can guide the couple through their different issues. With mediation, both spouses and the mediator will work together to reach mutually comfortable agreements.

  2. Collaborative Divorce

    A collaborative divorce sometimes referred to as a divorce done through collaborative law, differs from mediation in that both spouses have their own lawyers. In this process, the separating spouses meet outside of court and work together with each of their attorneys to come to agreements on the different matters of their divorce. Both of their attorneys work to ensure that the agreements that occur are fair to their respective clients; this way, no spouse has the upper hand over the other. After you have made decisions on each matter, a judge will have to approve your agreements before finalizing the divorce.

  3. Arbitration

    Arbitration is often confused with mediation because they have similar aspects. The main difference between the two is that in mediation, the mediator only helps the couple to work together better and form agreements. In arbitration, however, the arbitrator listens to each spouse and then makes a decision that they believe is most fitting for the situation. Arbitration provides an environment where spouses can voice their evidence, concerns, requests, and emotions in a more intimate setting than a courtroom. Arbitration is most commonly seen in high net-worth divorces.

How Do I Know if Alternative Dispute Resolution Is Right for Me?

There are a multitude of reasons that could mean ADR is better for you than going through divorce litigation. A form of ADR can most likely work for you and your spouse’s divorce if your situation includes one or more of the following:

  • You ended your relationship on amicable terms.
  • You believe you and your spouse can work constructively to form agreements outside of court.
  • You want to avoid court as much as possible.
  • You want your divorce process to go quickly.
  • You want to save money when you’re able.
  • You and your spouse are both willing to compromise.
  • You’re looking for a more flexible divorce process.
  • You want to avoid conflict and disagreements.


Q: What Is Divorce Litigation?

A: When a divorce is contested, meaning that the separating spouses are unable to come to agreements on their own, the divorce must go through litigation. Divorce litigation is the term used to describe when couples request the courts to make the decisions on their divorce matters. This gives the judge the right to make the final decisions on aspects such as child custody and property division.

Q: Is Mediation or Collaborative Law Better for a Divorce?

A: The ADR method that will most likely suit you largely depends on you and your spouse’s unique situation. Working with a mediator to help you through the process is a good option if you believe you and your spouse can work together well and make decisions relatively easily. If you both think you need a bit more help with the legal aspects and come to an agreement, collaborative law may be the better route for you.

Q: Are the Different Forms of ADR Confidential?

A: While couples can agree to meet in public, most separating spouses opt for private meeting spaces to keep their business confidential. In all forms of ADR, the professional you’re working with also promises confidentiality for whatever is discussed during your sessions. This way, both spouses can feel comfortable talking about all their issues and needs.

Q: How Long Do Alternative Dispute Resolution Divorces Take?

A: Contested divorces are well-known for taking a long time to become finalized. With ADR, however, you can help speed up your divorce process. Mediation, arbitration, and collaborative law all aim to help couples come to agreements amicably, fairly, and quickly, helping them to have an efficient and cordial divorce overall.

Q: What Happens After You and Your Spouse Go Through ADR?

A: Whether you use mediation, collaborative law, or arbitration, a judge will then have to evaluate your paperwork and the different agreements that were made. If they have issues with any matters, they’ll bring them up to you before your divorce can be finalized. Once the judge approves the terms in your paperwork, you will just need to wait for a final judgment for your divorce to become final.

Midwest Alternative Dispute Resolution

While no divorce is ever leisurely, some methods can help make the process easier for you and your family. At Stange Law Firm, PC, our team of family law attorneys share decades of experience helping individuals through their divorces and offer ADR services around the Midwest. Contact us today for more information on our services or to schedule a consultation with one of our team members.