As the world continues to struggle with COVID19, our team is in our office, working to help clients resolve complex family law matters. Our staff is taking every precaution to comply with social distancing measures and can meet with clients over phone or video conference, as well as in-person office meetings.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Most people decide to settle their issues instead of going to trial. Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) often helps the parties reach a settlement that is more acceptable to both parties. The most common forms of ADR are mediation and arbitration.

Local Family Law Rules 16(a) require almost all family law cases to be subject to a mandatory ADR before proceeding to trial. Relocation of a child and child support modification are two of the notable exceptions to this rule. 

In many contested divorce cases, if the parties are unable to reach a settlement on one or more of the issues, then the parties might schedule a mediation. At the medication, a divorce mediator will meet with each side, typically in separate rooms, to discuss the issues.

The mediator can either help you solve some of the issues or all of the issues, although the mediator has no power to make the parties agree or decide any issue in the case.

Attorney for Divorce ADR in Seattle, WA

If you are interested in alternative dispute resolution (ADR) including either mediation or arbitration then contact the Seattle family law attorneys at Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson. Our lawyers work hard to help our clients settle their cases without the expense or aggravation of a trial by using ADR. Because so many divorce and family law cases are settled during ADR, it is important that your attorney can effectively navigate this part of the process. 

The family law attorneys at Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson represent clients throughout King County and the Snohomish County including the nearby communities of Lynnwood, Woodinville, Edmonds, Ballard, Medina, Redmond, Renton, Mountlake Terrace, Lake Forest Park, Shoreline, Bothell, North Seattle, Greenwood, Greenlake, Tukwila, Burien, Normandy Park, Kent, North Bend, Mercer Island, Bellevue, Kirkland, Carnation, Issaquah, Sammamish, Vashon Island, and Maury Island.

We also represent clients in Snohomish County to the north and Pierce County to the south. Let us put our experience to work for you.

Call (206) 712-2756 to schedule a consultation.

 What is Mediation in a Family Law or Divorce Case?

Mediation is a confidential, voluntary, non-binding process that uses a neutral third party to guide parties toward a mutually beneficial resolution of their disagreement. Resolutions are created to suit both parties and may include an agreement not available through the court system.

The mediator does not impose his or her will or judgment on the parties but helps them reach an agreement by identifying issues, exploring possible bases for agreement, and weighing the consequences of not settling.


What is Arbitration in a Family Law or Divorce Case?

Another form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is arbitration. During arbitration, a neutral third party is selected to hear both sides of the case and issue a decision or award. In many ways, an arbitration proceeding is similar to a regular court trial.

The main difference between arbitration and a trial in court is that the parties agree in advance whether the arbitration will be binding or non-binding. If the parties agree to binding arbitration, then the decision or award is final, with the exception of a parenting plan, as a judge must find that the plan is in the best interest of a child, and thus retains the power to modify even a binding arbitration decision. 

If one party is dissatisfied with a non-binding decision by an arbitrator, that party can appeal the result by requesting a trial (often called the "request for trial de novo”). 

The downside of appealing an arbitrator’s decision is that if the trial fails to improve the outcome at trial, then that party will be required to pay the other party’s costs and reasonable attorney's fees incurred after the filing of the appeal. This rule on attorney fees is intended to encourage the parties to accept the arbitrator's decision as final.