Domestic Diversions

An alternative to having your day in court

2. When should I be open to ADR?
You should always be open to ADR. You should not always submit to it.

In general, ADR can save time and money. It can be flexible and confidential. It can provide your client his or her “day in court,” often with a better decision-maker than the one assigned by the clerk of court. It can preserve relationships, an especially critical long-term interest when parties have children. But it does have its drawbacks.

There will be times when ADR does not serve your client well, and it should not be entered into lightly. Your assigned judge may be the best decision-maker for your case, either tremendously fair and conscientious to all parties or perhaps slightly predisposed and favorable to your position. In either case, you may have more to lose than gain by trading that judge for ADR. Your client’s case may present significant legal issues. If appeal rights must be preserved, a binding ADR process will not protect your client. If issues of credibility bear a substantial impact on the final result, ADR’s focus on the big picture may paint with too broad a brush for your client’s liking. If the other spouse or attorney is unlikely to proceed in good faith, a non-binding ADR process may add another layer of delay and cost and disappointment to your client’s already heavy burdens. And in some instances, the delay afforded by the judicial system simply benefits your client in a tangible way.

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