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Is altervative dispute resolution right for you?

In recent months, it became apparent that you and your spouse had, in the words of Lionel Richie, "reached the end of your rainbow." Both of you are sure that divorce is the right course, yet you dread the public process that will lay bare all of your family's private matters.

Should you just grit your teeth and get through the process, certain there are bluer skies on the other side?

Not necessarily, as you might want to first try alternative dispute resolution (ADR). It is certainly not the route for every couple to take. But if you believe that you and your spouse can keep cool heads and remain civil to work out your custody and property division issues, it's definitely an option worth exploring.

The benefits are myriad. Typically, ADR is a lot cheaper than litigation. It's also a much more casual and less adversarial atmosphere than the typical courtroom setting. But perhaps best of all, the fate of you and your family doesn't rest upon the decisions of a man or woman who likely just met you and who has no insight into what would work best with your unique circumstances.

You and your soon-to-be ex-spouse are free to get as creative as you need to with your custody decisions. Your custody agreement can be as granular or as broad as you feel is necessary to cover all bases. Ditto for the property division portion of the divorce.

But what if you try and fail to resolve all your matters? Wouldn't it then be a waste of time, energy and money?

That's never a given. If you reached accord on any matters at all, that's one less issue that will have to play itself out in court. You can still litigate what remains to be decided. Meanwhile, any issues resolved in ADR remain private and not part of the public court record.

Address your concerns about ADR with your Pleasanton family law attorney to learn more about whether ADR is a good option for you to try.

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John T. Chamberlin, Attorney at Law
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Pleasanton, CA 94566

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