Are Mediation and Collaborative Practice Alternate or Preferred Dispute Resolution Methods?Mediation and Collaborative Practice have long been considered “alternate” dispute resolution methods.Those who practice these professions, however, have argued that these methods should actually be the “go to” approach for couples seeking to work through their divorce, with litigation only being a last resort if the parties cannot work out their differences among themselves.
Massachusetts Bar Association Changes Terminology
The Massachusetts Bar Association recently acknowledged the value that Mediation and Collaborative Practice bring to the dispute table by changing the name of their division to “Dispute Resolution”, removing the word “Alternate” from the beginning. While this is overdue in my opinion, it is nonetheless an exciting step, and one that I hope is being considered in other states as well.
Cementing the Legitimacy of Mediation and Collaborative Practice
Using the term “alternate” in relation to certain dispute resolution methods can cause some to question their legitimacy or effectiveness. Divorcing parties are looking to resolve their situation as quickly and easily as possible, so any additional uncertainty about the process is typically met with skepticism or disinterest.
It is important for those considering divorce to know that these methods are not experimental; they are in fact time-tested, proven, and respected professions.
“Work It Out Yourselves”
Growing up in a family of five children, my siblings and I were often told by our parents to “work it out” when we had disagreements. Although at times that was frustrating to hear as a child, I truly see the value of that approach now that I am an adult.
Granted, it is not always easy to work out major differences with another party (particularly one as close as a spouse), nor is it necessarily always the right course. Emotions are generally running high when a marriage is approaching dissolution, which is why it is important to include an objective professional as part of the resolution process.
Is there a time and place for divorce litigation? Yes, I believe there is. My perspective, however, is that it should not be the first recourse, as it has traditionally been in the past.
The outcome is almost always more appropriate for the situation when spouses have a say in working out their own divorce agreement. They know better than anyone else what is best for them and their children. Because of this, I feel there is nothing “alternate” about the professions of Mediation or Collaborative Practice. To find out if they might be the right fit for your situation, contact me today.