In the practice of law it seems that almost all lawyers do is draft agreements in anticipation of a dispute or dealing with a client who has a dispute with another party. Typically, as a lawyer if a client has a dispute we tend to write some sort of threatening letter and if no satisfactory resolution is found then we commence court action. This adversarial approach to dispute resolution may not necessarily be the best approach for clients.
Often, especially in a family context, the preservation of relationships is very important. As such, the adversarial nature of court may prove to be problematic to the family as a whole.
It is my view that alternative dispute resolution such as negotiations, mediation or collaborative divorce be attempted prior to commencing any court action. These approaches to conflict resolution are advisable in order to preserve family relationships and also speed up the time to have the dispute resolved.
From my experience, by using an alternative dispute resolution process (ADR process), such as negotiations, mediation or collaborative divorce, prior to any court action resulted in a majority of disputes being resolved. Not only did this save clients money and time, but client satisfaction was higher than even a successful outcome in court. I have seen many cases where a client entered into a mediation or collaborative divorce process with a level of animosity towards the other person and ended the process with an agreement both could live with and most of all with a smile on their face.
Dispute resolution, or as some would call it alternative dispute resolution, or ADR can be useful not only in the context of divorce, but also assist in the resolution of all sorts of family conflicts. Examples would include disagreements with respect to estate matters, parenting, dealing with an elderly parent etc.
Dispute resolution techniques outside of court can be useful for almost any conflict between individuals, especially where the preservation of relationships is important. I have found it especially useful in dispute resolution between neighbors, in the employment context and in all aspects of resolving civil claims.
It is our view, that alternative dispute resolution ADR techniques be used as a first step in almost any dispute resolution or civil conflict.