How to Handle Family Law Matters When Courts Are Closed: Alternative Dispute Resolution

In the light of recent court closures, the Hargrave Family Law team has received many questions about alternatives to keep cases moving forward. Many people do not realize that a large number of family law matters are generally resolved outside of the courtroom. As for the ones that are usually handled in court, we do have alternatives. In today’s blog post, we’re answering some of your most pressing questions about alternative dispute resolutions.

When our courts are closed can people still get divorced?

 Yes! At Hargrave Family Law, our attorneys are skilled at helping our clients find solutions that don’t involve the courts.  Our law firm is open for business, and our team is working everyday to help our clients through the divorce process.  With the skills and training provided through collaborative divorce, informal settlement conferences and mediation, we have always been committed to looking for the best ways to help our clients achieve their goals.  And for most of our clients, those solutions do not involve the courtroom.  However, when it is necessary to turn to the courts, our attorneys are also skilled at handling remote hearings, which are generally limited right now to emergency and urgent matters. 

What is collaborative divorce?

Collaborative divorce provides an alternative to the adversarial nature of litigated divorces. When you and your partner agree to participate in the collaborative process, you pledge to be open and honest in your negotiations, focus on solutions rather than the problems of the past, negotiate in good faith, and strive to find agreements that do not require Court intervention. Often, the parties achieve a better result than they would have in court, and they begin the next chapter knowing they avoided a destructive path through divorce You can learn more about the collaborative process here.

What is cooperative divorce?

Cooperative divorce utilizes many of the same ideas as collaborative divorce, emphasizing negotiation and compromise. Both parties and their attorneys agree to exchange information, then negotiate terms. This is a type of divorce that is prime for continuing to advance during these challenging times. If a stalemate is reached, the courts are still an option (once they reopen), but resolution can frequently be reached. Unlike collaborative divorce, cooperative divorce does not prevent you from taking things to court with the same attorney down the road if you decide to.

How can mediation be done during times of quarantine?

Everyone is adapting to our new circumstances in light of COVID-19, including mediators.  Mediators are offering remote mediations, which can occur through Zoom or other video chat services. Our firm has successfully conducted video mediations within the last few weeks without sacrificing any part of the process. Remote mediation is an excellent option for resolving temporary issues if you are just beginning your divorce, as well as reaching a final resolution.   

What is arbitration?

Arbitration is the practice of hiring a private judge to hear your dispute via remote means. It can be used for many types of disputes in family law when mediation has not worked or if one or both parties want the guarantee of a definitive resolution. 

Who can help me move forward if I want to get out of an unhappy marriage or if I have other family law needs?

If you are facing a family law issue, don’t let our current unusual and altered circumstances hold you back from seeking guidance. You need the help of an experienced family lawyer who is familiar with alternative dispute resolution methods to guide you so your matter doesn’t unnecessarily stall. The Hargrave Family Law team is here to help. We encourage you to reach out today. Please visit our Contact Us page for ways to get in touch.

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