Mediation And Arbitration
There are many ways to resolve family law disputes without going to court. Court is always an option, but it is often not the best option. There are alternative dispute resolution techniques that are available. Resolving your case through the collaborative law process or through more traditional settlement negotiations is often possible.
However, there are many instances in which people simply cannot agree. Either the conflict is too high or the parties are simply too far apart to come to agreement with just the attorneys. The two alternatives to this kind of impasse are mediation and arbitration.
Mediation is a process whereby a neutral third-party attorney is hired to assist the parties and their lawyers reach resolution. In this process, the mediator will help the parties identify their goals and interests.
Goals and interests are very different than positions. Once people can focus on the broader picture of what is important to them, rather than taking a very specific position, it is easier to reach resolution. The mediator, who should be an experienced family law attorney, can also help the parties and attorneys analyze the risks of taking certain positions in court.
Phyllis G. Bossin is a trained mediator. She went through intensive family law mediation training given by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers 25 years ago and then undertook another weeklong family law mediation training course in 2014. In November 2015, she took an intensive weeklong international family law mediation training course put on by the Section of International Law of the American Bar Association. This training focused on the many issues that arise when the parties are from two different countries, even if they are not living in different countries. These issues can include dividing property abroad, jurisdiction over custody and parenting issues, when children may travel abroad, immigration issues, passport issues, enforcement of orders in other countries, cultural barriers, etc.
Phyllis has resolved complicated family law cases as a mediator. After participating as a lawyer with her clients in dozens and dozens of mediations, she decided that her own experience in family law could be put to good use as a mediator.
People can seek to attend mediation without attorneys or with attorneys. If a client chooses to attend without attorneys, then Phyllis will prepare a mediation memorandum, but all court documents will need to be prepared by attorneys. She highly recommends that people have counsel throughout the mediation process and, if possible, in the room.
Not all cases can be resolved, even by mediation. There is another way to resolve these disputes without actually going to court. The parties and their counsel can choose to hire a private arbitrator to try their case. The parties and counsel would enter into a binding arbitration agreement. The only family law issue that cannot be arbitrated in Ohio is the allocation of parental rights and responsibilities, that is, the custody determination. Other parenting issues such as school placement, medical care, activities, parenting schedule and financial issues can all be arbitrated. All property division and spousal support issues can be arbitrated.
Phyllis has been a trained arbitrator for about 25 years. She believes strongly that arbitration is an excellent alternative to going to court.
While people often believe that arbitration will be more costly because the arbitrator has to be paid, the fact is that it will be a far more efficient process and cost less than trying the case in court. This is because the attorneys can get on the phone and resolve issues, such as discovery issues, directly with the arbitrator, and without filing motions and scheduling hearings. Additionally, the parties can agree to submit reports rather than call experts to testify if they choose. Finally, the parties will be able to have their case tried all at once rather than piecemeal over several appearances.
The decision will be final and binding, and thus save costs on objections and appeals. The biggest advantage is that the arbitrator will be a highly experienced family law attorney who understands business, the tax issues associated with the property division and spousal support determinations, complex income issues, compensation packages, etc.
Phyllis is a strong believer that both of these processes can help people get through the complex and difficult process of terminating their marriage without the actual court process.