Alternative Dispute Resolution or, ADR, is a way of resolving legal disputes without engaging in the adversarial process of litigation. There are several different types of ADR which can be used depending on the type of case and the goals of each of the parties. The Law Offices of Sherry K. Myers, LLC offers both Mediation and Collaborative Law as alternatives to litigation. In addition to discussing our clients' litigation options, we will fully discuss each ADR option in great detail and will help you decide which option may be right for you.


What is Alternative Dispute Resolution and how can it help you?


Benefits of Mediation


When parties go to court, each side must pay to hire their own attorney to represent them.  In addition to an up-front retainer fee, which will vary depending on the nature and complexity of each case, attorney's fees, especially for cases that go through to trial, can accumulate very quickly.  

With mediation, there is only one fee, the mediator’s fee which, unless otherwise agreed, is usually shared equally by the participants.  Depending on how effectively the participants are able to move through the mediation process, the number of sessions required and the length of each session may also be limited. 


The participants and the mediator are bound by confidentiality.  This means that, should the parties ultimately go to court, nothing discussed in the mediation can be used in any court proceeding unless the participants both agree. Also, because the process is confidential, the participants are encouraged to engage in honest, in-depth discussion about the issues they are facing.  This allows for complete resolution of the conflict. 


Mediation is completely voluntary.  It is certainly in the best interest of each of the participants to give an honest, good-faith attempt at resolving the dispute through mediation.  If at any time, however, a participant truly feels that the mediation is not advancing toward an agreeable resolution, they may terminate, either a particular session or the entire process. 


Unlike litigation, which takes place in a public courtroom in front of a judge, mediation takes place in a private setting with only the participants and the mediator present.    


Resorting to the courts to resolve disputes is both traumatic and stressful.  The "us versus them" and "winner versus loser" mentalities inherent in litigation fosters ill-will and antagonistic behaviors that can unnecessarily damage or destroy professional and personal relationships.  Mediation allows parties to a conflict to resolve their disputes while preserving their relationships.  This is especially important where the participants must continue a relationship into the future, for example, in a divorce where children are involved.


Should the participants find that they are unable to find a workable solution through mediation, they still have all of their legal rights and options available, including going to court. 


Perhaps the biggest benefit of mediation is that the mediation process allows the participants to thoroughly examine their present situation and develop solutions that will allow each participant to move forward into the respective futures they wish to create.  


What is mediation?

Mediation is a way to resolve disputes and can be used in a variety of settings.  In mediation, the participants sit down with a neutral 3rd party, called a mediator, who helps the participants to communicate openly and effectively and work toward a resolution that is mutually beneficial to all participants.   

Why should I try mediation before going to court?

While there are some cases which require court intervention, putting a good-faith effort into resolving a dispute through mediation prior to involving the courts, can have lasting benefits to all participants.

What is Collaborative Law?

Collaborative Law is another way to resolve disputes without going to court.  At the present time, the Collaborative process is most commonly used in divorce cases.  It is a voluntary process in which the parties engage a "team" of professionals to help them to divorce peacefully.


What makes a Collaborative divorce different from a court divorce? 

In a Collaborative Divorce:

1.  The parties sign a Collaborative participation agreement describing the nature and scope of the matter      the parties are attempting to resolve;

2.  The parties agree to voluntarily disclose all information which is relevant and important to the matter        the parties are attempting to resolve;

3.  The parties agree to use good faith and to put forth their best efforts in their negotiations to reach a          mutually acceptable settlement;

4.  Each party must be represented by a Collaboratively trained lawyer whose representation terminates        upon the undertaking of any contested court proceeding;

5.  The parties may engage mental health, financial and child specialist professionals, as necessary, with        the understanding that the engagement of the professional terminates upon the initiation of any                contested court proceeding;

6.  The parties agree to work together creatively and cooperatively to negotiate a mutually acceptable              settlement without having the court decide the issues;

7.  The parties work through the Collaborative process while maintaining objectivity and open                        communication as well as respect for each another, the Collaborative team and the Collaborative              process, even during times when the parties may disagree; 

8.   The parties are able to resolve their issues with a focus on the respective futures they wish to create; 

9.  Because a Collaborative divorce is a non-adversarial approach to problem solving, the emotional and          psychological trauma of a court divorce is greatly reduced for the parties and for the children both in        the short and long terms.  

Is a Collaborative divorce faster than a court divorce?

Each  divorce is unique because it is dependent on many factors; for example, the type and amount of assets and/or marital debt present or whether or not the parties have children.  A Collaborative divorce, however, can be more direct and efficient. By focusing on problem-solving—instead of blame and grievances—there is an opportunity to strive for respectful results. Full disclosure and open communications assure that you cover all the issues in a timely manner. And since you settle out of court, there is no waiting for multiple court dates necessary in a conventional divorce.  

How is Collaborative divorce different than Mediation?

In mediation, an impartial third person (the mediator) facilitates discussions between the parties to try to help the parties reach an agreement.  However, the mediator cannot give legal advice or be an advocate for either side. Lawyers may or may not be present at the mediation sessions and, if an agreement is reached in mediation, the mediator then prepares a draft of the settlement terms for review and editing by each of the parties' lawyers.

Collaborative Practice allows each party to have a lawyer present during the entire negotiation process. The lawyers work with their clients and one another to assure a balanced process that is positive and productive. When there is agreement, a document is drafted by the lawyers, and reviewed and edited by each party until each party is completely satisfied with the agreement.

Both Collaborative Practice and mediation rely on voluntary, free exchange of information and commitment to resolutions respecting both parties' shared goals.  If mediation does not result in a settlement, each party may choose to use their lawyer in litigation. In Collaborative Practice, the lawyers and parties sign an agreement at the outset, in which the parties agree that the Collaborative attorneys and other professional team members are disqualified from participating in litigation if the Collaborative process ends without reaching an agreement.  


What types of mediation services do you offer?

The Law Offices of Sherry K. Myers, LLC offers services as a mediator. We can also offer representation if you are a participant of a mediation that is being conducted by an outside mediator.  

What areas of mediation do you practice?

The Law Offices of Sherry K. Myers, LLC can assist you with family mediation, civil mediation and foreclosure mediation.