Alternatives to Divorce Litigation in New Haven
Before you go before a judge, there are several different types of avenues at court. To go before a judge means to have a hearing, have a trial, or put on evidence. At court, you can do what is called a family relations pre-trial, where the family relations officer of the courthouse will mediate the case. However, a couple can still choose to avoid litigation altogether and work collaboratively towards a solution. Even if a couple feels that they can amicably get a divorce without having to go to trial, it is still very important to hire a New Haven divorce lawyer who can help guide the process.
Arbitration and Mediation
During a divorce, while the case is pending, the parties can engage in a variety of different avenues to avoid going to court. Alternative dispute resolution is an alternative to trial and hearings at court. Basically, you can do arbitration, you can do mediation, and collaborative divorce is all of that combined. You can do mediation with a private mediator; you can do arbitration with a private arbiter. You can do those as binding or unbinding, which means that the result of the recommendation of the mediator or arbitration would not have to be the final result.
You can do any of these things with lawyers or without lawyers, and basically the mediator or arbitrator would meet with both sides. Arbitration is a little bit more formal where you can call witnesses. It is close to litigation, but it is still not in a courtroom.
Every issue regarding a divorce can be resolved using arbitration and mediation. These issues can include visitation, custody, asset division, debt division, and property division.
The first thing is to determine what type of mediation the parties want to do, whether it is through the court or private so they get that squared away. Even prior to that, as they complete all their discovery and they exchange all the proper documents, they pick a mediator and then they would exchange proposals.
The parties will meet with the mediator or the arbitrator and they will tell their sides of the story. The person running the collaborative divorce will make a recommendation on how to resolve the case, and if somebody likes that or does not like it, they have the option to accept it, go to court, and get divorced.
On the other hand, if you do not accept it, you can proceed on your path towards litigation, which is much more expensive.
Types of Mediation
There is the court mediation and there is a private mediator. Essentially in both scenarios, the general process is the same. The individual submits a proposal. They have a chance to sit down and talk with the mediator about their side of the case, the other side has a chance to sit down and talk about their side of the case. The mediators will look at all the financials and make their recommendation on what they think is fair and equitable under the circumstances and what is in the best interest of the kids, if there are any.
Sometimes a lawyer can be present, sometimes a lawyer cannot. The ground rules are set by the parties and one of the benefits of mediation is the parties set the rules. Sometimes, a lawyer is there, sometimes it is just the lawyers and no clients. Sometimes, it is just the clients and no lawyers, but the benefit to having a lawyer, is that they can prep their client and steer them in the right direction about what they need to say in the mediation to convince the mediator their point.
Another option is a special masters, which two experienced divorce attorneys do on their own time. They volunteer to do it, and they examine the case and listen to both sides. They then make the recommendation, or you do what is called a judicial pre-trial, which is where you sit down with a judge who is not involved in the case, go over all the facts of the case, and that judge makes the recommendation on how to resolve the case.
Hiring a Lawyer
When looking to hire a divorce attorney, each individual should hire their own individual lawyer. In many cases, couples will have a group lawyer, and then waste five months negotiating something out. They are not happy with it at the end of the day, and then they have to basically start all over.
If you have an attorney in your corner from the very beginning, even if the attorney is not specifically involved in the mediation or one of the alternatives, the attorney can still guide and analyze the proposals and prep you for mediation and arbitration so you are not entirely unprepared. An experienced divorce lawyer wants to settle cases, so the more collaborative the divorce can be, the better.