Alternative Dispute Resolution
In his advice to young lawyers, Abraham Lincoln wrote "Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can. Point out to them how the nominal winner is often a real loser -- in fees, expenses, and waste of time." Such words never rang truer than today. Litigation - the more "traditional" means of conflict resolution by submitting a matter to a judge's decision - has never been more costly, more adversarial, and more time-consuming.
We prefer to think of all forms of dispute resolution as having a goal of "optimal" results rather than "maximal" results, meaning that we typically advise our clients to consider both the economic aspects of a particular resolution - in terms of money, property, etc. - as well as the non-economic costs - in this context, the time spent committed to the adversary process that could otherwise be spent working, with family or on personal endeavors, or the adverse efects on mental and physical health that protracted litigation can cause.
At Kane, Wilburn & Stone, our lawyers have extensive experience with ADR processes of all types and in the various roles - as attorneys, advocates and neutrals. For more about alternatives to litigation, please review the information on this page and consult with one of our attorneys.
The term "alternative dispute resolution" (ADR) generally refers to any process established to resolve disputes without trial, and is often used to refer to such processes as negotiation, conciliation, mediation, settlement conferences, parenting coordination, collaborative practice, and arbitration.
While most don't think of it as a mode of ADR, negotiation is really the most ubiquitous process, long-used by parties and attorneys alike to reach agreed-upon resolutions. Well-informed and -considered negotiation is a powerful tool in resolving disputes.
Perhaps the most well-known mode of ADR is mediation, which is a process in which the parties work with one or more impartial neutrals called mediators who, without providing legal advice, assist the parties in reaching their own voluntary agreement for the resolution of all or part of a dispute.
Lesser known are ADR processes like parent coordination and collaborative practice.
Collaborative practice is a voluntary dispute resolution process in which parties settle without resort to litigation. In collaborative practice, the parties sign a collaborative participation agreement describing the nature and scope of the matter; the parties voluntarily disclose all information which is relevant and material to the matter that must be decided; the parties agree to use good faith efforts in their negotiations to reach a mutually acceptable settlement; each party must be represented by a lawyer whose representation terminates upon the undertaking of any contested court proceeding; the parties may engage mental health and financial professionals whose engagement terminates upon the undertaking of any contested court proceeding; and the parties may jointly engage other experts as needed. In the collaborative process, parties commit to negotiate a mutually acceptable resolution without having courts decide issues, maintain open communication and information sharing, and create shared solutions acknowledging the highest priorities of all. For more about collaborative practice in Western Maryland, see http://gocollaborative.org/.
Parent coordination is a process in which parties involved in a custody matter work with a parenting coordinator to reduce the effects or potential effects of conflict on the parties’ children, and is most frequently reserved for those high conflict parents who have demonstrated their longer-term inability or unwillingness to make parenting decisions on their own, to comply with parenting agreements and orders, to reduce their child-related conflicts, and to protect their children from the impact of that conflict. “Parenting coordinator” (often referred to as a "PC") means an impartial provider of parenting coordination services, which typically involve assessment of the conflict and parent education about child development, divorce research, the impact of parent behavior on children, parenting skills, and communication and conflict resolution skills. A PC also serves a coordination/case management function, working with professionals and systems involved with the family, such as mental health, medical care, education, legal, etc. A PC also serves a conflict management function, assisting the parties to work out disagreements regarding the children to minimize conflict, and a decision-making function where parents are not able to decide or resolve certain types of disputes on their own. Often lawyers, PCs do not give legal advice but unlike mediators may be witnesses in a court proceding.